Medicinal cannabis could lead to new treatments for a wide range of illnesses and diseases.

Not so long ago cannabis was something that could put you in jail.

Now it is being viewed as a potential new clinical treatment for chronic pain and afflictions like cancer or even insomnia.

The founders of Zelda Therapeutics saw the potential for medicinal cannabis, establishing the company in 2015 to bring a scientific focus to the plant and build up a valuable portfolio of intellectual property.

To do so they have had to navigate a landscape of early patents filed around the world by entrepreneurs that do not reflect a rigorous scientific approach to developing medicinal cannabis.

This is one of the areas where Griffith Hack is working with Zelda – developing an IP strategy that takes into account the existing patent landscape and identifying deficiencies in what already exists and where Zelda can focus its energies.

“Looking forward five years and it’s inevitable that large pharmaceutical companies are going to want to enter the space and by then we’ll have a huge amount of data and IP around what cannabis can do that they will find attractive ..." - Harry Karelis

Zelda Therapeutics has partnered with universities and research groups around the world to conduct pre-clinical trials using its cannabis extracts and formulations to target breast cancer, brain cancer and pancreatic cancer, as well as clinical trials for insomnia, autism and eczema.

“Looking forward five years and it’s inevitable that large pharmaceutical companies are going to want to enter the space and by then we’ll have a huge amount of data and IP around what cannabis can do that they will find attractive,” says company co-founder and Executive Chairman Harry Karelis.

Griffith Hack works with Zelda on all levels of its IP strategy, including drafting patents, identifying valuable IP that researchers may not have considered during their work, landscape searching and which countries to file patents in.

“The challenge for us is to identify the patenting opportunities, navigate the impediments to patenting and devise strategies that will not only protect Zelda’s IP, but act as a deterrent to the many competitors that are entering the medicinal cannabis space,” Griffith Hack Principal and Life Sciences Group Leader Stuart Boyer says.

“We are not only working with the management of Zelda, but also the clinical researchers around the world to assist in the development of experimental protocols that will provide not only useful clinical data, but potentially protected information too.”

Australia’s first medicinal cannabis clinic is due to open in Melbourne later in 2018 after the Victorian and federal governments allowed its use for medical purposes.

With the US Food and Drug Administration approving its first drug derived from cannabis recently, the determination to develop new medicinal cannabis treatments is likely to grow.

The name “Zelda Therapeutics” came about through the “Aunt Zelda’s” group company co-founder Mara Gordon established in California to supply medicinal cannabis to patients in need. Mara baked cakes using cannabis oil to a recipe from her real-life Aunt Zelda.