Short-Term Effects of Cannabis Therapy on Spasticity in MS

INVESTIGATOR: Jody Corey-Bloom, M.D., Ph.D.

STUDY LOCATION: University of California, San Diego

PROJECT TITLE: Short-Term Effects of Cannabis Therapy on Spasticity in MS

PROJECT TYPE: Clinical Study

STATUS: COMPLETE

RESULTS:

Thirty-seven participants were randomized at the start of the study, 30 of whom completed the trial. Treatment with smoked cannabis resulted in a significant reduction in spasticity using an objective clinician-rated measure. The placebo-controlled trial also resulted in reduced perception of pain, although participants also reported short-term, adverse cognitive effects and increased fatigue. No serious adverse events occurred during the trial.

The full results of this study have been published in CMAJ.

ABSTRACT:

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is the most common debilitating neurologic disease of young people, affecting at least 250,000 persons in the US, often between the ages of 20 and 40. Symptom manifestation varies considerably from person to person; however, one frequently noted concomitant is spasticity, which causes pain, spasms, loss of function and difficulties in nursing care. The present application is designed to explore the short-term effectiveness and safety of medicinal cannabis on spasticity in patients with MS. There has been significant public discussion on the potential therapeutic uses of cannabis for various neurologic conditions, including MS; however, evidence that cannabis relieves spasticity produced by MS is largely anecdotal. Large-scale trials or controlled studies to compare cannabis or THC with currently available therapies for spasticity have not been performed. There is no published evidence that cannabinoids are superior or equivalent to available anti-spasticity therapies and potential side effects of cannabis need to be clarified. This proposed two-year project aims to examine spasticity and global functioning in 30 MS patients before and after treatment with smoked cannabis in a placebo-controlled, randomized, cross-over design. It is expected that MS subjects will demonstrate improvement in spasticity but impairment on cognitive measures of attention, concentration, and memory assessed before and after medicinal cannabis treatment. Patients will be measured at baseline and for three days after each treatment initiation using sensitive measures of spasticity, cognition, neuropsychiatric features, treatment-emergent effects, and global measures of functioning. Thus, the application's primary goal is to obtain objective assays of short-term efficacy and safety in MS patients treated for spasticity with medicinal cannabis.

PUBLICATIONS:

Type:

Title:

Journal Article Corey-Bloom J, Wolfson T, Gamst A, Jin S, Marcotte T, Bentley H, Gouaux B. (2012). Smoked cannabis for spasticity in multiple sclerosis: a randomized, placebo-controlled trial. CMAJ. 2012 Jul 10;184(10):1143-50. doi: 10.1503/cmaj.110837. Epub 2012 May 14.
Meeting Abstract Corey-Bloom J, Wolfson T, Gamst A, Jin S, Marcotte T, Bentley H, Gouaux B. Short-Term Effects of Medicinal Cannabis on Spasticity in Multiple Sclerosis. Poster presented at the 60th Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Neurology (Chicago, IL). 2008.

San Diego company testing marijuana-derived multiple sclerosis therapy

Gary Robbins, San Diego Union Tribune, October 10, 2018

Emerald Health Pharmaceuticals of San Diego has begun using a marijuana-derived therapy to experimentally treat small numbers of people who suffer from multiple sclerosis and scleroderma, a pair of autoimmune diseases.

The small, phase 1 safety trial involves CBD, a compound found in marijuana. CBD has caught the attention of researchers because it does not get people high, and it has anti-inflammatory properties.

The trial is meant to determine whether the therapy is safe, what dose should be used, and if there are any side effects or related problems.

Emerald Health says it also is developing another non-psychoactive compound found in marijuana — CBG — for possible use in treating patients with Huntington’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.

UC San Diego is preparing to use CBD in a clinical trial that’s meant to people who suffer from epilepsy.

Read the story here


DEA slowly takes steps to affirm the medicinal value of marijuana

Gary Robbins, San Diego Union Tribune, October 2, 2018

Scientists and patients who've long held that marijuana can be used to treat illness and disease are finally getting some backing from the federal government.

The Drug Enforcement Agency currently lists marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug, meaning that it has no known medical use and a high potential for abuse.

But in a very narrow ruling, the DEA recently said that patients who suffer from two specific types of epilepsy could benefit from taking Epidiolex, a new anti-seizure medication derived from marijuana.

Epidiolex largely consists of cannabidiol, or CBD, a compound in cannabis that does not get people high.

The DEA decided to classify Epidiolex as a Schedule 5 drug, which would rank it with cough medicines.

The move has caused some confusion. The Union-Tribune sought clarity from Dr. Igor Grant, a psychiatrist who helps lead UC San Diego's Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research.

Read the interview here


Study to Examine Possible Effects of Cannabis Compound for Common Movement Disorder

Press Release, UC San Diego Health, September 18, 2018

Researchers at University of California School of Medicine are preparing to launch a novel clinical trial to examine the safety, efficacy and pharmacological properties of cannabis as a potential treatment for adults with essential tremor (ET). Currently, ET is treated using repurposed medications originally developed for high blood pressure or seizures. Surgery is another option.

Scheduled for early 2019, the phase I/II trial will assess efficacy and tolerability of an oral cannabis formulation comprised of cannabidiol (CBD) and low-dose tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Researchers say it will be the first time this combination has been studied for treatment of ET.

“This study will provide key insights,” said Fatta Nahab, MD, neurologist at UC San Diego Health and associate professor of neurosciences at UC San Diego School of Medicine. “If found to be safe and effective, cannabis would not only serve as an exciting new addition to the limited treatment options currently available for patients with ET, but it might also provide scientists with new insights on essential tremor.”

Read the full press release here


CMCR recipient of Major Philanthropic Award

Autism is a complex neurodevelopmental disorder that affects an estimated 1 in 68 children in the United States, yet treatment options are limited. Could cannabidiol (CBD), a non-psychoactive compound found in cannabis, hold clues for developing effective therapies? Thanks to a major gift from the Ray and Tye Noorda Foundation, researchers at the University of California San Diego will embark on a multidisciplinary study to investigate the potential of cannabidiol as a treatment for severe autism. The award was given in partnership with and based on recommendations the Noorda Foundation received from the Wholistic Research and Education Foundation.

The $4.7 million gift to the Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research (CMCR) at UC San Diego School of Medicine is the largest private gift to date for medicinal cannabis research in the United States. The funding will support translational research to investigate whether medicinal cannabinoid therapies can alleviate symptoms in children with severe autism—and if so, how. The groundbreaking study spans clinical, basic science, advanced mathematics and genetic techniques across the same cohort of patients, offering a comprehensive and systematic exploration of CBD efficacy on autism.

Read the full release

Click here for more information about the study


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