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article imageStudy to explore medical marijuana as a treatment for epilepsy

By Tim Sandle     Sep 28, 2014 in Science
Scientists at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus are to examine the genes from people with a form of epilepsy called Dravet Syndrome and who have been treated with medical marijuana. The aim is to see if medical marijuana helps.
Some people are of the view that medical marijuana helps those who suffer with epilepsy by lowering the impact of seizures. To explore this, university researchers are to conduct a trial.
With the proposed study, scientists aim to study the genes of those with a kind of epilepsy called Dravet Syndrome who have been treated with a strain of medical marijuana known as Charlotte’s Web. Dravet Syndrome is rare and catastrophic form of intractable epilepsy that begins in infancy.
The study sets out to determine if specific genetic components can provide an explanation as why some epilepsy patients see positive results from ingesting Charlotte’s Web, while others do not. Charlotte’s Web is a type of medical marijuana processed into a marijuana extract that is strong in cannabidiol content. It does not induce the psychoactive "high".
Edward Maa, the principal investigator of the Charlotte’s Web study, told Time Magazine "This is the first attempt to get the information people are interested in that is observational in nature."
There are many parents who have found that the regular administration of medical marijuana helps to reduce the severity of epileptic seizures. For example, one U.S. couple, Kim and Chris Clark, found a strong improvement when they gave Charlotte's Web, in the form of an oil, to their son. They told The Guardian: "I hesitate with the word 'miracle', because it's not that easy. We're experiencing things we never would have without it, but we're still dealing with the delicate balance of his brain."
The new study is titled "Genetic Analysis Between Charlotte's Web Responders Versus Non- Responders in a Dravet Population". The research brief states:
There is tremendous curiosity about medical marijuana and the treatment of epilepsy. In a specific genetic epilepsy known as Dravet Syndrome, a mutation occurs affecting the SCN1A gene. A specific strain of marijuana known as Charlotte's Web, available in Colorado, may have activity in this catastrophic epilepsy syndrome. Anecdotal reports suggest both success and lack of response with this therapy. Genetic analysis of the differences between Dravet responders and non-responders may prove useful for identifying patients likely to be helped by this therapy, as well as shed light on the putative mechanisms by which marijuana may exert any antiepileptic effect.
For the study patients who have already taken Charlotte’s Web will be divided into two sets: those who have seen seizure activity reduced by at least 50 percent on Charlotte’s Web and those who have had less dramatic or no results from taking the marijuana oil.
The final results of the study will not be known until February 2016.
More about Marijuana, Epilepsy, Medical Marijuana, Clinical trial
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