GW Pharmaceuticals’ Roger Pertwee wins award

Will be the 19th recipient of the Wellcome Gold Medal

Professor Roger Pertwee

Professor Roger Pertwee, director of Pharmacology at GW Pharmaceuticals and an internationally recognised cannabinoid scientist, will be the 19th recipient the Wellcome Gold Medal.

The British Pharmacological Society presents this award every two years. Of the previous recipients, three have been Nobel Prize winners and 16 have been Fellows of the Royal Society.

Professor Pertwee, who is also Professor of Neuropharmacology at the University of Aberdeen, joined GW Pharmaceuticals, a UK company that makes medicines from cannabis, in 2002. He is one of the world's leading cannabinoid scientists, having researched the area for more than 40 years, and is the author of more than 240 publications. He has also been consulted on the therapeutic potential of cannabis and cannabinoids by parliamentary committees and leading medical organisations and was involved with the 1998/99 Royal Pharmaceutical Society working party on cannabis and the House of Lords Science & Technology Committee investigation into cannabis.

Professor Pertwee said: ‘I feel delighted and very honoured to have been given this medal by such a prestigious society, especially because it relates to pharmacological achievements, in my case mainly in the area of cannabinoid pharmacology.

‘My research group is currently focusing on the greatly understudied pharmacology of some of the many unique and fascinating compounds called phytocannabinoids that are produced by cannabis.

‘The main objective of this pharmacological research is to identify potential new therapeutic uses for phytocannabinoids, some of which can already be prescribed by doctors to reduce cancer pain or the spasticity and pain of multiple sclerosis.

‘Just some potential new uses we have recently discovered are for the treatment of certain liver disorders, Parkinson’s disease, stroke and drug dependence.’

Professor Pertwee’s work builds on pharmacological research on phytocannabinoids that he began at Oxford University in 1968 and continued when he moved to Aberdeen in 1974.

‘We are also investigating the pharmacology both of synthetic cannabinoids and of endocannabinoids – these are chemicals produced naturally by our own tissues to reduce the severity or unwanted effects of disorders such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, schizophrenia, post-traumatic stress disorders, intestinal inflammatory disorders, atherosclerosis and cancer,’ said Professor Pertwee.

Dr Geoffrey Guy, chairman of GW, said Professor Pertwee has played a pivotal role in cannabinoid science, which has led to GW’s development of Sativex, the world's first cannabis based medicine, launched last year as a treatment for spasticity due to multiple sclerosis.

He and GW are now exploring the potential of other cannabinoids in a range of therapeutic areas including diabetes, epilepsy and cancer.