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While a large body of anecdotal and laboratory evidence points to cannabis as an effective treatment for epilepsy, research in humans is just beginning to catch up.
By Admins (from 08/01/2014 @ 07:04:06, in en - Video Alert, read 1497 times)

GW Pharmaceuticals – the UK-based company behind the natural cannabis spray Sativex – announced the start of the first round of clinical trials of a new cannabis treatment for epilepsy.

In the press release, Dr. Stephen Wright, Director of Research and Development at GW, said the company has spent years testing cannabis in pre-clinical models – which include cell cultures and animals.

So far, the drug is only known as GWP42006.

"We are pleased to have advanced GWP42006 to first dose in man, a significant milestone in the development of this novel product candidate. The decision to progress into Phase 1 follows several years of highly promising pre-clinical research."

Dr. Ben Whalley, Senior Lecturer in Pharmacology at the Reading School of Pharmacy, added, "Our research collaboration with GW over the last several years has shown that GWP42006 not only exerts significant anticonvulsant effects in a wide range of preclinical models of seizure and epilepsy but is also better tolerated compared to existing anti-epileptic drugs."

While the company has not disclosed the ingredients in the new drug, their latest animal study – which appears in the October issue of the British Journal of Pharmacology – showed positive results with two chemicals derived from cannabis: Cannabidiol (CBD) and cannabidivarin (CBDV).

Both were found to suppress seizures and increase survival across a range of different rat models of epilepsy.

And while previous studies have achieved similar results using THC – the chemical in marijuana responsible for the high – the advantage of using CBD and CBDV is that neither are psychoactive.

In particular, many epileptic patients have reported success with CBD, including the family of Charlotte Figi – a six year old girl from Colorado who once suffered from up to 300 grand mal seizures a week caused by Dravet syndrome – a rare, severe form of epilepsy that begins during infancy.

As reported in a recent CNN documentary called WEED, after Charlotte began taking daily doses of CBD-rich cannabis oil – which is legal in her home state – Charlotte's seizures dropped to only a few each month.

But the absence of clinical research means that even patients as young as Charlotte – who are most at risk of suffering permanent disability – face resistance from their doctors when requesting cannabis-based treatment.


While filming WEED, CNN's Sanjay Gupta visited Charlotte Figi's medical marijuana provider, Joel Stanley, at his farm in Colorado. Joel crossbred a CBD-rich strain specifically for his youngest patient, which he named Charlotte's Web.

However, with medical marijuana now legal in over 20 states, the push for more research has led to new progress in the U.S. as well.

In July, Dr. Orrin Devinsky, Director of the Comprehensive Epilepsy Center at New York University, told the Toronto Star that he had just received FDA approval for a clinical trial of CBD in children with epilepsy.

He said that there isn't much doctors can do at the current time since "we really lack much data," but noted the attention that medical marijuana has received from families of younger patients.

"I've spoken with these parents, and I think they're solid, good, loving parents, who've had very good experiences."

According to Dr. Devinsky, if results from animal studies are confirmed and there are no setbacks, CBD could be approved in the U.S. in two to three years.

But with decades of pre-clinical research (and even a few small human trials) providing support for marijuana's ability to control epileptic seizures, approval couldn't come soon enough.

Source: LeafScience.com

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