NEW YORK, January 31, 2018 /PRNewswire/ --
NetworkNewsWire Editorial Coverage
Blockchain and cannabis stocks enjoyed an impressive market run in 2017 and industry analysts expect the trend to continue in 2018. As these industries continue to grow, innovators are finding ways to integrate this growth and address areas of need in different verticals. Case in point, India Globalization Capital, Inc. (NYSE: IGC) (IGC Profile), the developer of a patent-pending cannabis-based combination therapy for Alzheimer's disease, recognizes the need for accurate labeling of cannabidiol products online. In response, the company is developing blockchain technology-based solutions for the cannabis industry. With this endeavor, the company is participating in the rampant growth and application of blockchain benefits, alongside Eastman Kodak Company (NYSE: KODK), BTL Group Ltd (OTC: BTLLF), Riot Blockchain, Inc. (NASDAQ: RIOT) and China Information Technology, Inc. (NASDAQ: CNIT).
In December 2017, heavy investor trading in cannabis and blockchain stocks helped to push the profits of companies in these sectors higher. TD Ameritrade Holding Corp. reported January 23 that daily average trades for the last quarter of 2017 were up 49 percent from the previous year, with trades in the blockchain and cannabis sectors accounting for between 6 and 9 percent of daily activity (http://nnw.fm/7TfXC).
This heightened interest in cryptocurrencies ripples far beyond TD Ameritrade's portfolio, however, and has led to widespread application of the underlying blockchain technology to a diverse range of industries, including cannabis.
IGC Adds Blockchain Technology to its Cannabis Platform
A recent study published in JAMA (http://nnw.fm/7hJdD) showed that almost 70 percent of cannabidiol ("CBD") products sold online are incorrectly labeled. Recognizing this issue as an opportunity, India Globalization Capital, Inc. (NYSE: IGC) in late December 2017 announced its plans to develop ways of using blockchain technology for Product Identification Assurance (PIA) of its cannabidiol (CBD)-based therapies. The following day, IGC's stock was up by over 200 percent and selling at $1.26 a share.
Shortly after, SeeThruEquity issued an update on IGC and raised its price target on the company's stock to $2 a share, noting the company's new and existing initiatives.
There are currently four proprietary cannabis-based products in IGC's pipeline, including the company's lead product, Hyalolex, for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease. The formulation of this flagship candidate includes the psychoactive cannabinoid tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which works in combination with other active ingredients to slow the buildup of plaque in the brain.
IGC has defined a two-part commercialization strategy for Hyalolex (http://nnw.fm/5Q3bx): follow the traditional FDA pathway through registered preclinical and clinical trials; and license its formulation technology as a Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) to cannabis dispensaries in the United States. Initial distribution is geared toward licensed medical cannabis dispensaries in Maryland, Washington, D.C., and California.
The latter process will include state-by-state sourcing, formula assembly, and packaging and distribution, utilizing best practices to ensure quality control while meeting the legal guidelines of each state in which Hyalolex is sold.
Importantly, IGC plans to develop its blockchain platform to bring Hyalolex to market, and from there leverage the advantages of the technology to address inadequate product labeling, transactional difficulties, product origin and other broad industry challenges.
Moving forward with its plan to develop blockchain-based methods for PIA and other industry challenges, IGC will utilize the expertise of its technology and health care experts to achieve an end-goal of producing an independent, licensable product.
"We understand the unique challenges facing the cannabis industry and believe that our team has the expertise to be the first to create meaningful solutions to address these issues using distributed ledgers inherent in blockchain technology," IGC CEO Ram Mukunda stated in the press release (http://nnw.fm/J8Z8p). "As we work to develop blockchain in the rollout of Hyalolex, our goal would be to establish a universal cannabis platform applicable to solving multiple industry challenges facing dispensaries and consumers. This would include addressing issues such as transactional difficulties, inadequate product labeling, product identification assurance and product origin assurance."
IGC's Product Portfolio
IGC is a first mover in the dynamic cannabis market. The company has a portfolio of cannabis-based products for a range of medical conditions, including Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases, pain, nausea, eating disorders and epilepsy in cats and dogs.
As earlier noted, IGC has identified exceptional potential within the Alzheimer's market, which it is targeting with Hyalolex.
With an estimated cost to the economy of $236 billion, Alzheimer's is America's most expensive disease. It currently affects over 5 million Americans, and this is expected to double over the next 20 years. In collaboration with the University of South Florida, IGC holds the exclusive license for the U.S. patent filing entitled "THC as a Potential Therapeutic Agent for Alzheimer's Disease."
IGC also has combination therapy formulations for the treatment of epilepsy and cachexia. Epilepsy affects around 50 million people globally, while 1.3 million U.S. citizens suffer from cachexia associated with cancer, multiple sclerosis (MS), Parkinson's disease, HIV/AIDS and other progressive diseases. It is reported that cancer-induced cachexia/anorexia accounts for 20 percent of all cancer deaths. The company has two products in its development pipeline, IGC-502 indicated for seizures and IGC-504 indicated for cachexia. These are unique combination therapies that, once proven in clinical trials, are expected to exhibit reduced side effects as compared with conventional mono therapies used in the treatment of medical refractory epilepsy and eating disorders.
Pain therapy presents a huge market opportunity. The national cost of treating health issues related to pain is up to $635 billion, and a further $25 billion is attributed to the health care cost of prescription opioid abuse. IGC has filed a patent for a cannabis-based formulation, IGC-501, that uses a variety of delivery techniques to treat neuropathic and arthritic pain in joints and muscles. The company expects that this combination therapy, after completing clinical trials, will provide a cannabinoid-based alternative to long-term addictive opioid treatments.
IGC's intention is to become a leader in the phytocannabinoid-based specialty pharmaceutical sector, leveraging its first-mover advantage in combination therapy development to build up its patent portfolio.
"The development of combination therapies utilizing cannabis represents a large, unique opportunity in this emerging specialty-pharmaceutical sector. Securing FDA approval for combination therapy is believed to be significantly faster and less expensive than new drug applications. As a result, we believe that we can bring our cannabis-based pharmaceutical products to market in both an expeditious and cost-effective manner," the company stated in a previous press release.
Expanding its market beyond its product pipeline, IGC is entering the blockchain market, where other companies are finding footing in a variety of applications.
Eastman Kodak Company (NYSE: KODK) recently announced a licensing partnership with WENN Digital to revolutionize content rights management for photographers. This initiative will utilize a secure blockchain platform to enable both amateur and professional photographers to market their work in a space that will generate more than $110 billion by 2021. The company will use its newly launched KODAKOne, an encrypted management platform and digital ledger of rights ownership, in conjunction with KODAKCoin, a photo-centric cryptocurrency, for this venture.
BTL Group Ltd (OTC: BTLLF) is an established developer of blockchain technologies that primarily serves the finance, energy and gaming industries. The company's secure, user-friendly and multi-chain platform, Interbit, enables companies to build custom applications in trading, remittance, settlement, audit and back-office processes. Another technology platform, Xapcash, in combination with Interbit, will leverage blockchain technology for "cash-in, cash-out" settlement solutions. BTL has collaborated with VISA Europe to initiate a pilot program for the development of a cross-border settlement solution that incorporates privacy, security and scalability.
Riot Blockchain (NASDAQ: RIOT) was originally known as Bioptrix Pharma, focusing on biopharmaceuticals. The company experienced rapid growth after it reoriented its focus to blockchain technology and its stock surged from $7 in November 2017 to more than $46 in a month. Riot Blockchain acquired Verady, LLC, a company that provides accounting and auditing services to the digital currency market. The company also owns a share in a Canadian-based cryptocurrency exchange, Coinsquare. In addition, it owns a majority share in TessPay, a payment resource for wholesale telecom carriers based on blockchain technology.
China Information Technology's (NASDAQ: CNIT) integrated cloud-based solutions enable innovation in several diverse fields, including education, new media and elevator safety management. The company recently announced its intention to research the application of blockchain for its Taoping new-media sharing ecosystem to develop a more efficient and secure solution for payments and to create a better mechanism for collecting internal data and rewarding end users.
Jianghuai Lin, Chairman and CEO of CNIT said, "We believe that the research on blockchain is a promising opportunity for us. As the developer and leading operator of the Taoping ecosystem, we keep up with the development of new technologies as we are devoted to keeping upgrading and optimizing our services."
While the volatility of cryptocurrencies keeps some skepticism afloat, an increasing number of companies are developing innovative blockchain solutions for their businesses. This technology is rapidly gaining acceptance for widespread use in many industries as companies that explore its applications find footing for potential long-term growth.
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