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July 31, 2013

Nuvilex’s Medical Marijuana Segment Could Mirror Israel’s Success

Most observers would be surprised to learn that Israel may be at the forefront of medical marijuana research across the globe. Considering the success of some of the programs in Israel in treating cancer patients with cannabis, Nuvilex Inc.’s (OTCQB – NVLX - $0.16 – Spec Buy) subsidiary, Medical Marijuana Sciences, Inc. may elect to emulate some of that country’s initiatives.

In Israel, the $40-million-per-year medical-marijuana industry has flourished. Today, medical marijuana is prescribed to 11,000 patients, up from 1,800 in 2009, according to the Israeli Health Ministry. It is used to treat an extensive list of illnesses including cancer, Parkinson’s, Tourette syndrome, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).  Importantly, while some cancer patients do smoke medical marijuana, in most cases, the drug is delivered via pill, liquid, food and even vapor.  These delivery method alternatives are a bit broader than what is typically found in the U.S.

Perhaps the reason for the forward-thinking of Israeli scientists is the long history of medical marijuana research in Israel, which according to a recent article in Tablet magazine, traces its roots to nearly 50 years ago. 

Much like in the U.S., despite the presence of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) inherent in cannabis that is responsible for the “high,” Israeli researchers prefer to remove the THC and raise the concentration of the non-psychoactive cannabidiol, or CBD, which has documented anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.  In fact, in the 1960’s, Israel was a world leader in research on marijuana and its components conducted under the so-called grandfather of cannabis, professor Raphael Mechoulam of Hebrew University, who first isolated the THC component.

Going forward, as Americans continue to embrace the use of marijuana for its medicinal properties coupled with the elimination of THC from cannabis “extracts” and a concentration on the use of CBD as a therapeutic agent, Nuvilex’s choice of developing CBD-based treatments for serious cancers becomes validated.   Furthermore, a combination therapy for pancreatic cancer that combines a CBD-based treatment with its high profile live-cell encapsulation-based treatment for that disease may well be in Nuvilex’s future. 

Since the summertime is also a vacation period for the country’s legislators, the medical marijuana space has been a bit quiet of late. However, once legislatures return to session, it is likely that this industry segment will enjoy accelerated opportunities. 

Senior Analyst: Robert Goldman
Rob Goldman has over 20 years of investment and company research experience as a senior research analyst and as a portfolio and mutual fund manager. During his tenure as a sell side analyst, Rob was a senior member of Piper Jaffray's Technology and Communications teams. Prior to joining Piper, Rob led Josephthal & Co.'s Washington-based Emerging Growth Research Group. In addition to his sell-side experience Rob served as Chief Investment Officer of a boutique investment management firm and Blue and White Investment Management, where he managed Small Cap Growth portfolios and The Blue and White Fund.

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