Shares of Tilray (TLRY) were jumping 10.3% higher as of 3:22 p.m. EDT on Thursday. The nice gain came after the Canadian cannabis producer announced that it has exported medical cannabis to the United States for a clinical study.
Tilray said this study, which is being led by scientists at Columbia University Irving Medical Center (CUIMC) in New York, will evaluate the use of medical cannabis in patients with breast cancer who suffer from taxane-induced peripheral neuropathy (TIPN), a disorder where nerve damage resulting from chemotherapy causes numbness or pain.
What does Tilray's news mean for investors? Not much, at least not at this point. However, it was good news for Tilray, since the company hasn't had much positive going for it so far this year.
Philippe Lucas, Tilray's Vice President of Global Patient Research and Access, said that the company is "excited to support this groundbreaking, first-of-its-kind trial seeking to find a new treatment option for TIPN." Dr. Margaret Haney, one of the two lead scientists on the clinical study at CUIMC, noted, "There is exciting preclinical evidence showing that THC and CBD significantly reduce TIPN, and our study will be the first to test this in a well-powered clinical trial."
More than two-thirds of women who receive chemotherapy to treat breast cancer suffer from TIPN. The condition can even result in some patients being forced to abandon treatment by chemotherapy.
If the CUIMC clinical study proves to be successful, it could bode well for the cannabis industry overall. Tilray would likely benefit, especially considering the company's focus on medical cannabis research and its partnership with pharmaceutical giant Novartis. However, it remains to be seen if cannabis is beneficial in helping breast cancer patients with TIPN.
For now, Tilray's primary challenge is to improve its bottom line. The company continues to lose money and is burning through its cash stockpile. Today's news about the CUIMC clinical study highlights the main issue for marijuana stocks like Tilray: There's a lot of potential but it has yet to be realized.