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article imageMarijuana-based epilepsy drug 'promising'

By Tim Sandle     Oct 19, 2014 in Science
In a new U.S. study, children with treatment-resistant epilepsy have been prescribed a cannabidiol drug in clinical trials.
From the initial results from the trial, the company GW Pharmaceuticals has published data which suggests that an investigational cannabidiol drug called Epidiolex can help to suppress epilepsy. The active ingredient in Epidiolex is a purified liquid extract from the cannabis plant, known as Cannabidiol (CBD), which does not cause highs.
In the first wave of studies, The Independent reports, Epidiolex has been successfully administered to 58 children and young adults who suffer from treatment-resistant epilepsy such as Dravet syndrome. Thus is would appear that the cannabidiol works as an anti-convulsant. The study was undertaken following approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Dravet syndrome is rare and catastrophic form of intractable epilepsy that begins in infancy. With the new drug candidate the results of the 12-week trial produced encouraging results with between 40 to 70 percent of patients obtaining a greater than fifty percent reduction in seizure frequency.
In related news, Digital Journal reported earlier that scientists at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus are to examine the genes from people with the same type of epilepsy and who have been treated with medical marijuana. The similar aim is to see if medical marijuana helps alleviate the symptoms of epiplepsy.
The study was led by Elizabeth Thiele, director of the paediatric epilepsy programme at Massachusetts General Hospital. Quoted by Laboratory Talk, Thiele said: "Based on my experience thus far, I believe that Epidiolex has the potential to be an important advance in treatment for these treatment-resistant children and will likely have a significant role as a future therapy. I believe these data fully support advancing into formal clinical development, and we are very excited to participate with GW [Pharmaceuticals] in the upcoming placebo-controlled trials in Dravet and Lennox-Gastaut syndromes."
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