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Professor Vincenzo Di Marzo to direct GW’s global pre-clinical research programme

Porton Down, UK; 8 March 2012: GW Pharmaceuticals plc (AIM: GWP) today announces that, effective March 1st 2012, Professor Vincenzo Di Marzo has agreed to direct GW’s global pre-clinical research programme and will assume the title of Research Director of GW Research Ltd and GW’s Cannabinoid Research Institute.

Professor Vincenzo Di Marzo endocannabinoid system cannabinoidsProfessor Di Marzo is one of the world’s leading cannabinoid scientists, co-author of more than 460 peer-reviewed publications, and in 2010 was recognised as Thompson Reuters ‘top scientist of the decade’ for pharmacology and toxicology. He has previously served as President of the International Cannabinoid Research Society (ICRS) and is a recipient of ICRS’s Mechoulam Award for “outstanding contributions to cannabinoid research”.

Professor Di Marzo is a Research Director at the Institute of Biomolecular Chemistry of the National Research Council (ICB-CNR) in Pozzuoli, Naples, Italy, coordinator of the Endocannabinoid Research Group in the Naples region, and an Adjunct Associate Professor in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology at the Medical College of Virginia at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond.

In his new engagement with GW, Professor Di Marzo will be responsible for coordinating the research efforts of GW’s global network of cannabinoid scientists. This network now extends to over 25 academic institutions in 11 countries and involves research in a wide range of therapeutic areas, including oncology, neuroscience, metabolic disease, inflammatory disease, gastroenterology, and dermatology. The objective of this research effort is to progress a number of GW’s new cannabinoid pipeline candidates to full clinical development.

Professor Roger Pertwee, GW’s Director of Pharmacology and Professor of Neuropharmacology at the University of Aberdeen, said, “We are delighted to welcome Professor Di Marzo to GW. He has played a significant role in several of the major advances in cannabinoid science and is recognised around the world as a leading authority in the field of cannabinoid pharmacology. In recent years, GW has established research programmes with scientists around the world in a broad range of therapeutic areas and Professor Di Marzo will undoubtedly make a significant contribution to the progress of these research efforts.”

Professor Di Marzo said, “Over recent years, I have conducted numerous research projects in collaboration with GW and have come to respect and admire the company’s scientific expertise, commitment to cannabinoids, and vision for the future development of cannabinoid medicines. I am delighted to have now the opportunity to help direct the company’s exciting scientific programme in therapeutic areas as diverse as oncology, neuroscience, metabolic disease and beyond.”


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Notes to Editors

Professor Vincenzo di Marzo
Prof. Di Marzo was awarded a ChemD from the University of Naples in 1983, and a PhD in Biochemistry and molecular pharmacology from Imperial College in London in 1988. He also completed postdoctoral studies in lipid biochemistry and natural product chemistry at ICB-CNR in 1990.

Prof. Di Marzo is co-author of more than 460 articles published in peer-reviewed journals, including several reviews on endocannabinoids. In addition, he is, or has been, on the editorial board of Prostaglandins, Leukotrienes, and Essential Fatty Acids; Journal of Cannabis Therapeutics; Critical Reviews in Neurobiology; and the British Journal of Pharmacology. He is Editor-in-Chief of Recent Patents in CNS Drug Discovery.

Prof Di Marzo has been the recipient of numerous research grants, including a Human Frontier Science Program research grant to study the biosynthesis, metabolism, and structure-activity relationships of anadamide; an INTAS research grant to study the immunomodulatory role of endocannabinoids; and a 3-year research grant from the VolkswagenStiftung in Germany.

He has served as President of the International Cannabinoid Research Society (ICRS) between 2004 and 2005. Since December 2005 he is member of the board of the International Chair of Cardiometabolic Risk of Laval. In June 2006 he was awarded a Merkator Fellowship for Foreign Scientists by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinshaft to visit Germany for 6 months and establish collaborations with German scientists. In June 2007, he was awarded by the ICRS the Mechoulam Award for “outstanding contributions to cannabinoid research”.

In 2010, Prof Di Marzo was recognised as Thompson Reuters ‘top scientist of the decade’ for pharmacology and toxicology.

Selected Publications:
V. Di Marzo, A. Fontana, H. Cadas, S. Schinelli, G. Cimino, J.-C. Schwartz and D. Piomelli (1994) Formation and inactivation of endogenous cannabinoid anandamide in central neurons. Nature, 372, 686-691.

R. Mechoulam, E. Fride, L. Hanus, T. Sheskin, T. Bisogno, V. Di Marzo, M. Bayewitch and Z. Vogel (1997) Anandamide may mediate sleep induction. Nature, 389, 25-26.

V. Di Marzo, N. Sepe, L. De Petrocellis, A. Berger, G. Crozier, E. Fride and R. Mechoulam (1998) Trick or treat from food endocannabinoids? Nature, 396, 636-637.

L. De Petrocellis, D. Melck, A. Palmisano, T. Bisogno, C. Laezza, M. Bifulco and V. Di Marzo (1998) The endogenous cannabinoid anandamide inhibits human breast cancer cell proliferation. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 95, 8375-8380.

P.M. Zygmunt, J. Petersson, D.A. Andersson, H. Chuang, M. Sorgard, V. Di Marzo, D. Julius and E.D. Hogestatt (1999) Vanilloid receptors on sensory nerves mediate the vasodilator action of the endocannabinoid anandamide. Nature, 400, 452-457.

A. Berger, G. Crozier, T. Bisogno, P. Cavaliere, S. Innis and V. Di Marzo (2001) Anandamide and diet: inclusion of dietary arachidonate and docosahexaenoate leads to increased brain levels of the corresponding N-acyl ethanolamines in piglets. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 98, 6402-6406.

V. Di Marzo, S.K. Goparaju, L. Wang, J. Liu, S. Bátkai, Z. Járai, F. Fezza, G. Miura, R. Palmiter, T. Sugiura and G. Kunos (2001) Leptin-Regulated Endocannabinoids Are Involved in Maintaining Food Intake. Nature, 410, 822-825.

G. Marsicano, C.T. Wotjak, G. Rammes, T. Bisogno, S.C. Azad, M.G. Cascio, H. Hermann, J. Tang, C. Hofmann, W. Zieglgänsberger, V. Di Marzo and B. Lutz (2002) “The endogenous cannabinoid system controls extinction of aversive memories. Nature, 418, 530-534.

S.M. Huang, T. Bisogno, M. Trevisani, A. Al-Hayani, L. De Petrocellis, F. Fezza, M. Tognetto, J.F. Krey, T.J. Petros, C.J. Chu, J.D. Miller, S.N. Davies, P. Geppetti, J.M. Walker and V. Di Marzo (2002) An endogenous capsaicin-like substance with high potency at recombinant and native vanilloid VR1 receptors. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 99, 8400-8405.

G. Marsicano, S. Goodenough, K. Monory, H. Hermann, M. Eder, A. Cannich, S. C. Azad, M. G. Cascio, S. Ortega Gutiérrez, M. van der Stelt, M. L. López-Rodríguez, E. Casanova, G. Schütz, W. Zieglgänsberger, V. Di Marzo, C. Behl and B. Lutz (2003) CB1 cannabinoid receptors and “on demand” defense against excitotoxicity. Science, 302, 84-88.

V. Di Marzo, M. Bifulco and L. De Petrocellis (2004) The endocannabinoid system and its therapeutic exploitation. Nat. Rev. Drug Disc., 3, 771-784.

M.D. Van Sickle, M. Duncan, P.J. Kingsley, A. Mouihate, P. Urbani, K. Mackie, N. Stella, A. Makriyannis, D. Piomelli, J.S. Davison, L.J. Marnett, V. Di Marzo, Q.J. Pittman, K. D. Patel, and K. A. Sharkey (2005) Identification and Functional Characterization of Brainstem Cannabinoid CB2 Receptors. Science, 310, 329-332.

V. Di Marzo and I. Matias (2005) Endocannabinoid control of food intake and energy balance. Nat. Neurosci., 8, 585-589.

V. Di Marzo, T. Bisogno and L. De Petrocellis (2007) Endocannabinoids and related compounds: walking back and forth between plant natural products and animal physiology. Chem. Biol., 14, 741-756.

M. Karsak, E. Gaffal, R. Date, L. Wang-Eckhardt, J. Rehnelt, S. Petrosino, K. Starowicz, R. Steuder, E. Schlicker, B. Cravatt, R. Mechoulam, R. Buettner, S. Werner, V. Di Marzo, T. Tutting and A. Zimmer (2007) Attenuation of allergic contact dermatitis through the endocannabinoid system. Science, 316, 1494-1497.

V. Di Marzo and L. Cristino (2008) Why endocannabinoids are not all alike. Nat. Neurosci. 11, 124-126.

V. Di Marzo (2008) Targeting the endocannabinoid system: to enhance or reduce? (2008) Nat. Rev. Drug Discov. 7, 438-455.

P. Grimaldi , P. Orlando, S. Di Siena, F. Lolicato, S. Petrosino, T. BisognT, R. Geremia, L. De Petrocellis and V. Di Marzo (2009) The endocannabinoid system and pivotal role of the CB2 receptor in mouse spermatogenesis. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 106, 11131-11136.

V. Di Marzo, J.P. Després (2009) CB1 antagonists for obesity–what lessons have we learned from rimonabant? Nat Rev Endocrinol. 5(11):633-8.
D. Bolognini, B. Costa, S. Maione, F. Comelli, P. Marini, V. Di Marzo, D. Parolaro, R.A. Ross, L.A. Gauson, M.G. Cascio, P.G. Pertwee (2010) The plant cannabinoid Delta9-tetrahydrocannabivarin can decrease signs of inflammation and inflammatory pain in mice. Br J Pharmacol. 160(3):677-87.

L. De Petrocellis, A. Ligresti, A.S. Moriello, M. Allarà, T. Bisogno, S. Petrosino, C.G. Stott, V. Di Marzo. (2011) Effects of cannabinoids and cannabinoid-enriched Cannabis extracts on TRP channels and endocannabinoid metabolic enzymes. Br J Pharmacol. 163(7):1479-94.

V. Di Marzo. (2011) Endocannabinoid signaling in the brain: biosynthetic mechanisms in the limelight. Nat Neurosci.14(1):9-15.

L. De Petrocellis, V. Di Marzo. (2011) Cell signalling: why fasting worms age slowly. Nature 473(7346):161-3

V. Di Marzo. (2011) Endocannabinoids: an appetite for fat. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A.108(31):12567-8.

F. Barutta, F. Piscitelli, S. Pinach, G. Bruno, R. Gambino, M.P. Rastaldi, G. Salvidio, V. Di Marzo, P. Cavallo Perin, G. Gruden. (2011) Protective role of cannabinoid receptor type 2 in a mouse model of diabetic nephropathy. Diabetes.60(9):2386-96.

L. De Petrocellis, P. Orlando, A.S. Moriello, G. Aviello, C. Stott, A.A. Izzo, V. Di Marzo. (2012) Cannabinoid actions at TRPV channels: effects on TRPV3 and TRPV4 and their potential relevance to gastrointestinal inflammation. Acta Physiol (Oxf) 204(2):255-66.

G. Aviello, B. Romano, F. Borrelli, R. Capasso, L. Gallo, F. Piscitelli, V. Di Marzo, A.A. Izzo. (2012) Chemopreventive effect of the non-psychotropic phytocannabinoid cannabidiol on experimental colon cancer. J Mol Med. Epub ahead of print

A.A. Izzo, R. Capasso, G. Aviello, F. Borrelli, B. Romano, F. Piscitelli, L. Gallo, F. Capasso, P. Orlando, V. Di Marzo. (2012) Inhibitory effect of cannabichromene, a major non-psychotropic cannabinoid extracted from Cannabis sativa, on inflammation-induced hypermotility in mice. Br J Pharmacol. Epub ahead of print

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