DiversityNursing Blog

Cannabis: A New Frontier In Therapeutics

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Mon, Feb 16, 2015 @ 11:12 AM

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While debate about recreational marijuana use continues, researchers are investigating the effectiveness of cannabis for treating pain, spasticity, and a host of other medical problems. In a symposium organized by the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) as part of the 2015 American Association for the Advancement of Science Annual Meeting held this week in San Jose, California,  experts from North America and the U.K. share their perspectives on the therapeutic potential of medical cannabis and explore the emerging science behind it.

"We need to advance our understanding of the role of cannabinoids in health and disease through research and education for patients, physicians and policy-makers," says Dr. Mark Ware, director of clinical research at the Alan Edwards Pain Management Unit at the MUHC, in Canada.

As a pain specialist Dr. Ware regularly sees patients with severe chronic pain at his clinic in Montreal, and for some of them, marijuana appears to be a credible option. "I don't think that every physician should prescribe medical cannabis, or that every patient can benefit but it's time to enhance our scientific knowledge base and have informed discussions with patients."

Increasing numbers of jurisdictions worldwide are allowing access to herbal cannabis, and a range of policy initiatives are emerging to regulate its production, distribution, and authorization. It is widely believed that there is little evidence to support the consideration of cannabis as a therapeutic agent. However, several medicines based on tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive ingredient of cannabis, have been approved as pharmaceutical drugs.

Leading British cannabis researcher Professor Roger Pertwee, who co-discovered the presence of tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV) in cannabis in the 70's, recently published with collaborators some findings of potential therapeutic relevance in the British Journal of Pharmacology. "We observed that THCV, the non-psychoactive component of cannabis, produces anti-schizophrenic effects in a preclinical model of schizophrenia," says Pertwee, professor of Neuropharmacology at Aberdeen University. "This finding has revealed a new potential therapeutic use for this compound."

Neuropsychiatrist and Director of the Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research (CMCR) at the University of California, San Diego Dr. Igor Grant is interested in the short and long-term neuropsychiatric effects of marijuana use. The CMCR has overseen some of the most extensive research on the therapeutic effects of medical marijuana in the U.S. "Despite a commonly held view that cannabis use results in brain damage, meta analyses of extensive neurocognitive studies fail to demonstrate meaningful cognitive declines among recreational users," says Dr. Grant. "Bain imaging has produced variable results, with the best designed studies showing null findings."

Dr. Grant adds that while it is plausible to hypothesize that cannabis exposure in children and adolescents could impair brain development or predispose to mental illness, data from properly designed prospective studies is lacking.

Source: www.sciencedaily.com

Topics: science, clinic, policy, marijuana, medical marijuana, research, medical, patients, medicine, treatment, cannabis, theraputics, herbal, plants, chronic pain

Georgia Boy Among First To Receive Experimental Medical Marijuana Drug

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Fri, Jan 02, 2015 @ 11:36 AM

By LIZ NEPORENT

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A 7-year-old boy is one of the first people in the country to receive a potent form of medical marijuana as part of an “extended use” clinical trial to reduce seizures.

Preston Weaver, who lives in Athens, Georgia, has Lennox-Gastaut syndrome which is a severe form of epilepsy. He experiences up to 100 seizures a day, although many are confined to his brain and aren’t noticeable to an observer. There is no known cure for the condition.

“Today’s the day, buddy. We’re not going to have any more of those,” his mom Valarie Weaver, 36, said she told her son as the headed to his first treatment Tuesday.

Her son can't see, walk or talk, Weaver said. Although he's 7, his behavior is more like that of a 2-month-old. But he lights up when he goes in the water and he seems to love the feel of the sun and the wind, Weaver said.

"Our hope is that this treatment will calm down his brain enough so that he will start communicating with us," she said.

Many of the drugs available to treat the syndrome don’t work long term, especially for children. Even with more than a dozen medications Weaver has had no relief.

The active ingredient in Epidiolex, the experimental drug that Weaver and one other child are receiving, is called cannabidiol. It’s also the main active ingredient in marijuana though it doesn’t produce a high.

Dr. Michael Diamond, the interim senior vice president of research for Georgia Regent University said the drug is not legal or approved for use by use by the Food and Drug Administration. The university’s current study, one of only a handful of trials for compassionate use being held around the country, will expand to include 50 children over the next few weeks.

“We are hopeful the drug will reduce the frequency and severity of seizures within a month, but we know it will not work for every child,” he said.

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal approved the trials in April. It took some time to get additional clearance at the federal level, Diamond said.

“No one with a heart could hear the stories of these children and their parents and not want to exhaust every possibility to provide them with the treatment they need to combat this debilitating condition,” said Deal

Weaver told ABC News that she was grateful her son was accepted into the trial though she was disappointed the state legislature had narrowly failed to pass a bill that would have legalized the drug for use with sick children. But, she said, she’s not giving up.

"Even though Preston is on it, Preston and I are still going to fight for all the other ones too, we will be at the capital every single time, we need to be there until this becomes legal and every child in the state has the option for this treatment if they need it," Weaver said.

Source: http://abcnews.go.com

Topics: clinical trial, marijuana, medical marijuana, health, healthcare, nurses, doctors, Epilepsy, patient, treatment

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