Sundial Growers Inc. (Sundial) and the University of Saskatchewan (U of S) have signed a three-year memorandum of understanding (MOU) to undertake collaborative research exploring opportunities for clinical testing and other research activities that support the advancement of cannabis-related health solutions.

As part of the collaboration, Sundial and the U of S have agreed to undertake clinical trials to study the efficacy of cannabis as a treatment for dementia.

“With our wide-ranging multidisciplinary expertise and cutting-edge plant genomics research, the U of S is eager to work with Sundial to uncover the full potential of cannabis for health and economic benefits,” said said Karen Chad, U of S Vice-President Research.

“This unique study is the first step in our exciting collaboration, and will no doubt position the U of S as a national leader in advancing cannabis as a treatment for dementia.”

The randomized and placebo-controlled, blinded dose-escalation study will take place at two extended care facilities in Saskatoon. The study aims to examine the degree to which patients can tolerate side effects of the drug, the dosage, and any adverse effects of dose escalation.

“With today’s announcement and similar collaborations with the University of Calgary and Sundial’s Mitacs research initiative, we are demonstrating our commitment to becoming a leader in Canada with respect to cannabinoid research,” said Sundial President Geoff Thompson.

“We believe strongly in the potential of cannabis as a modern natural alternative and health solution to many ailments. We are excited to work with the University of Saskatchewan to further prove the efficacy of cannabis through rigorous scientific research and clinical testing.” 

The MOU aligns with the U of S Cannabinoid Research Initiative of Saskatchewan (CRIS), an interdisciplinary biomedical and plant genomics research initiative that aims to obtain scientific evidence about the application of cannabinoids and cannabis derivatives to humans and animals for health, disease, and disorders.

The U of S has privileged access to cannabis gene collections, but needs a consistent and quality supply of cannabis for research purposes. Sundial can provide this with its innovative cultivation techniques and state-of-the-art, individually controlled cultivation rooms.

The U of S has chosen dementia as one area of focus for clinical trials due to serious national and international concerns about the impact dementia is having in countries with aging populations.

Secondary outcomes of the study include learning more about the impact of cannabis on patient anxiety, aggression, sleep, pain, cognitive stabalization, and nutrition when it is used as a treatment option for dementia.

Jane Alcorn, co-lead of the biomedical branch of CRIS and Associate Dean of Research and Graduate Affairs in the College of Pharmacy and Nutrition, said the collaborative research agreement will also benefit students and faculty.

“This partnership with Sundial will create opportunities to sponsor specific trainees and faculty for projects that will advance understanding of medicinal applications of cannabis, as well as secure other partnership funding for trainee sponsorships,” she said.

About the U of S Cannabinoid Research Initiative of Saskatchewan (CRIS)

CRIS is an interdisciplinary team encompassing pharmacy and nutrition, medicine, veterinary science, agriculture, public health, law and public policy. It conducts research on the medical application of cannabinoids and cannabis derivatives in delivering health and clinical benefits to humans and animals.

CRIS is the first in Canada to establish a research program to connect and comprehensively study three key areas of cannabis scholarship:

  • Plant genomics and biochemical diversity—to identify medicinally relevant plant profiles and develop new cannabis varieties
  • Biomedical—to develop best practices for clinical use and disease and health treatment
  • Policy, innovation and economic growth—to enable sustained innovation and economic growth, and protect health and public safety

For more information, visit https://research-groups.usask.ca/cris/index.php