WHAT WE DO
At Altus Labs, we leverage the power of research, data and transparency to develop consumer products and drugs that improve long-term health and well-being. We are focused on the endocannabinoid system’s (ECS) role in the body’s ability to treat and prevent inflammatory and immune mediated diseases. We believe that many of the systems of the body are interrelated, and that the ECS plays a key role in the body's ability to maintain homeostasis, especially for inflammation and immune mediated diseases. Early research is demonstrating that cannabinoids and complementary compounds such as terpenes and flavonoids are directly and indirectly interacting with your ECS. Currently, we are focused on the ECS in relation to skin, particularly for conditions such as atopic dermatitis (eczema) and psoriasis.
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The field is crowded. There are now cannabis derived FDA approved drugs, synthetic cannabinoid mimetics, hundreds of CBD infused products, creams, lotions, and pills that you can buy only in certain states. We strip away the dogma around how the active ingredients are derived. Whole plant extracts vs. isolates, synthetic derivatives, and semi-synthetic molecules meant to exactly replicate a compound found in nature are all considered and evaluated. Biomedical research is our guide, and data determines our direction.
The Skin Endocannabinoid System
Although the endocannabinoid system (ECS) is often associated with the brain, the ECS is also an important component of the skin. Endocannabinoids such as anandamide (AEA), 2-arachidonylglycerol (2-AG) and N-palmitoylethanolamide (PEA) are also detected in the skin. They all go up in response to skin inflammation, indicating an attempt to return to homeostasis. Cannabinoid receptors (such as CB1 and CB2) are found on keratinocytes (the main skin cells), sensory nerve fibers (that transmit pain and itch signals to the brain), and skin mast cells. TRPV1 is sometimes referred to as the “ionotropic cannabinoid receptor”. TRPV1 is expressed on keratinocytes, skin immune cells, and sensory nerves where it has a critical role in inflammation and even itch (2014, ACS Chem Neurosci). PPARs are a group of intracellular receptors that can up or downregulate gene expression when they are activated. Although not officially part of the ECS, they are activated by various cannabinoid molecules. PPARs are expressed in both keratinocytes and immune cells and are important regulators of both skin barrier function and inflammation. Molecules which target these pathways have the potential to bring homeostasis back to the skin and result in cosmetic improvement in patients with eczema.
Once we identify a target condition, our team of scientists do an extensive review of existing literature to better understand the physiological systems impacted by cannabinoids, and what additional compounds are targeting other relevant systems that hold the strongest supporting evidence for therapeutic mechanisms of action. We select these compounds based on highest scientific merit, potential for therapeutic effect, and availability for sustainable and ethical sourcing. There is already a large amount of data available on cannabinoids, and our research team is highly skilled at systematically combing the literature and compiling it into understandable and actionable data.
Using a variety of preclinical models, we validate and expand upon existing literature to better guide our formulation development, and validate therapeutic potential in the chosen model.
Through preclinical and clinical testing, we validate the safety of final formulations through well accepted protocols. We then longitudinally collect data from consumers to further assess any potential safety concerns.
Clinical Efficacy Testing
Our human studies recruit relevant patient populations, and are ongoing to continue to assess the safety and clinical efficacy of commercialized formulations. This data is used to further refine formulations as needed. In most cases, these studies are observational and not interventional in nature.
Established and growing ecosystem of clinicians, researchers, and partners to accelerate R&D
Can Marijuana Help Eczema?
The Role of Cannabinoids in Dermatology
Stirring the Pot: Cannabinoids and AD
Jeremy Kahn | ceo
Mr. Kahn is a seasoned strategist with almost a decade of on-the-ground experience in American, African, Caribbean, Asian and European markets, working with the highest levels of business and government. Prior to joining Altus Labs, LLC, Jeremy was a partner at Entrepreneurial Solutions Partners (ESP), an international strategy and competitiveness advisory firm.
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At ESP, Jeremy developed expertise in economic strategy development, brand building, value chain analysis, leadership training and in fostering public-private sector dialogue. At ESP, Jeremy led the development of comprehensive analyses and strategies in twelve countries and over ten sectors, including infrastructure & construction, tourism, agribusiness, wood processing and both light and heavy manufacturing.
Prior to joining ESP, Jeremy owned and managed a U.S. based luxury consumables company focused on developing high-end, innovative consumable accessories for the lifestyle market, securing distribution in over thirty countries. Before running his own company, Jeremy attended Princeton University and received a B.A. in history. Jeremy is a native English and French speaker.
Helena Yardley, PHD | Director of Research
Dr. Yardley has a dual Ph.D. in Neuroscience & Physiology. She worked as a clinical research coordinator at Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology developing studies focused on bringing novel drugs to the pharmaceutical market for sleep and pain.
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She has extensive experience in study design, bioinformatics, and statistics, and has used her expertise in these areas to help companies use their data to shape company strategy and direction. She is a cannabinoid expert, leading researcher and data scientist, and is focused on bridging the gaps between human physiology, chemistry, and neuroscience to deliver the next generation of cannabinoid therapies.
Peter Lio, MD | Clinical Dermatologist
Peter A. Lio, MD is a Clinical Assistant Professor of Dermatology & Pediatrics at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, a Fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology, and a Diplomate of the American Board of Dermatology (board-certified in Dermatology).
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Dr. Lio received his medical degree from Harvard Medical School, completed his internship in Pediatrics at Boston Children’s Hospital, and his Dermatology training at Harvard where he served as Chief Resident in Dermatology. While at Harvard, he received formal training in acupuncture.
Dr. Lio served as a full-time faculty at Harvard (Beth Israel & Children’s Hospital Boston) from 2005-2008 before returning to his native Chicago to join Northwestern and Lurie Children's Hospital. Dr. Lio is the founding director of the Chicago Integrative Eczema Center, and has spoken nationally and internationally about eczema and atopic dermatitis, as well as alternative medicine. He remains active in clinical research, serves as a section editor for the Archives of Diseases in Childhood, and has published two textbooks and over 75 papers in the peer-reviewed literature. He has received a Leader of Distinction Award, a Presidential Citation from the American Academy of Dermatology, and numerous teaching awards.
Dr. Lio is committed to providing the highest level of care to patients of all ages. His special interests include pediatric dermatology, eczema, acne, dermatomyositis, and other inflammatory diseases of the skin, and he works to integrate alternative and complementary medicines in dermatology.
Robert Dellavalle, MD, MSPH, Phd | Clinical Dermatologist
Dr. Dellavalle is a Professor of Dermatology at the University of Colorado and chief of the Dermatology Service at the Denver VA Medical Center. He is a Professor of dermatology and public health with more than 200 PubMed cited research publications.
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Dr. Dellavalle specializes in teaching medical students how to perform and publish academic research, skin cancer prevention, dermatoepidemiology, teledermatology, the global burden of skin disease and dermatology big data research.Through his research, he has become one of the most quoted and well-known authorities on the use of cannabinoids in dermatology.
Dr. Dellavalle received degrees from the University of California Los Angeles, BA & MA Philosophy; the University of Chicago, PhD, Molecular Genetics & Cell Biology; the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine, MD; and the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, MSPH.
Michael Tagen, PHD | Director of Pharmacology
Dr. Michael Tagen, Ph.D. received a BS in Neuroscience from Connecticut College and a Ph.D. in Pharmacology from Tufts University, where his thesis focused on allergic and inflammatory diseases. He subsequently completed a postdoctoral fellowship in the Pharmaceutical Sciences department of a pediatric cancer hospital.
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He spent the last 8 years in drug development, performing clinical and translation pharmacology research in the areas of oncology, inflammation, and neuroscience for Bristol Myers Squibb & Roche Pharmaceuticals.
Nikhil Heble, PHARMD, JD | GC & SVP, Alliance Management
Mr. Heble is a registered patent attorney who provides strategic legal and business counsel to a diverse client base, including generic pharmaceutical, consumer product, and emerging growth companies. Nik earned his JD from the University of Miami School of Law; and his PharmD, magna cum laude, from Temple University School of Pharmacy.
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Most recently, Nik was a Partner at Blank Rome, an Am Law 100 firm. He has researched and filed provisional patents in the cannabis, hemp, and cannabinoid space, primarily for Altus Labs’ majority shareholder, Franklin Group, LLC.
Jonathan Fernandez | SVP Strategy
Mr. Fernandez is a bio-pharmaceutical strategist with over 20 years of medical education, sales, and marketing experience. Jonathan spent nearly a decade in execution & leadership positions in the biopharmaceutical and medical device sectors, including Johnson & Johnson. He has a deep appreciation of the application of science and medicine to create commercially viable therapeutics.
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His background encompasses numerous surgical specialties, chemistry, hemp, and cannabinoids. Most recently, Jonathan held a variety of leadership roles in the cannabis industry at other Franklin Group, LLC owned companies with a focus on commercialization, regulation, and intellectual property development. Mr. Fernandez holds a Bachelor of Science degree in environmental science from Metropolitan State University. He has also completed masters level coursework in healthcare administration at the University of Colorado and pharmaceutical chemistry at the University of Florida.