EDINBURGH, May 19 (RIA Novosti), Mark Hirst – Researchers at Edinburgh University are applying for approval to begin trials using oil extracted from marijuana to treat children suffering from extreme epilepsy.
“Marijuana has stigma associated with it. This makes it more challenging to develop treatments, but there is precedence for this type of process,” said Dr. Richard Chin, a consultant pediatric neurologist at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Edinburgh.
“We use lignocaine and lidocaine as a local anesthetic and this is related to cocaine,” Chin told RIA Novosti. “We use codeine for pain relief but this is related to opium.”
Initial testing of the new treatment, called Epidiolex, which has the chemical component that leads to a “high” removed, has resulted in dramatic improvements for patients.
But researchers now want to run full-scale clinical trials to test the safety of the new drug.
“As with any new medicine, carefully managed clinical trials are needed to evaluate the potential benefits and assess the possible side effects before this treatment can be used in the UK,” Chin added.
Chin told RIA Novosti that more research should be carried out to explore the potential use of marijuana-based drugs in treating a wider range of conditions and diseases.
“The parent company for Epidiolex already has a similar drug that is licensed for use in Multiple Sclerosis for spasticity,” Chin told RIA Novosti. “Other uses have been in the treatment of Glaucoma and there are ongoing trials for its use in cancer treatments for nausea and pain.”
Around 18,000 people in Scotland suffering from epilepsy report that existing treatments do not work, leading to relentless seizures and serious impairment of their physical and cognitive functions.
Researchers at the Muir Maxwell Epilepsy Centre at Edinburgh University, who will run the trials, aim to recruit 30 children in Edinburgh and another 30 who will be treated at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London. The children will be initially be given small doses of the drug twice a day.