Dr. Steph Wright, director of research and development at GW Pharmaceuticals, said four Phase 2 clinical trials will have results by the end of the year that might help develop a drug used to treat patients suffering from "metabolic syndrome" -- a risk factor for heart disease, the Sunday Telegraph reported.
Although marijuana is an illegal drug in England, GW Pharmaceuticals has a license to grow the plant -- bred to express different quantities of cannabinoids -- in specially constructed greenhouses at a secret facility in the south of England, Wright said.
The researchers said the two compounds being tested -- THCV and cannabidiol -- had an appetite suppressing effect, but it only lasted for a short time. However, when the scientists looked closer, they found the compounds also had an impact on the level of fat in the body and its response to insulin, a hormone that controls sugar levels in the blood.
In research involving mice, THCV and cannabidiol boosted the animals' metabolism, leading to lower levels of fat in their livers and reduced cholesterol in their blood stream, the Telegraph reported.