Nav: Home

Cannabis-based drug reduces seizures in children with treatment-resistant epilepsy

January 05, 2016

Children and young adults with severe forms of epilepsy that does not respond to standard antiepileptic drugs have fewer seizures when treated with purified cannabinoid, according to a multi-center study led by researchers from UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital San Francisco.

"Better treatment for children with uncontrolled seizures is desperately needed," said Maria Roberta Cilio, MD, PhD, senior author and director of research at the UCSF Pediatric Epilepsy Center. "It's important to get seizure control at any age, but in children, uncontrolled seizures may impact brain and neurocognitive development, which can have an extraordinary effect on quality of life and contribute to progressive cognitive impairment."

The researchers evaluated 162 children and young adults across 11 independent epilepsy centers in the U.S. All of the children were treated with Epidiolex, a purified cannabinoid that comes in a liquid form containing no tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychotropic component in cannabis, over a 12-week period. The results showed a median 36.5 percent reduction in monthly motor seizures, with a median monthly frequency of motor seizures falling from 30 motor seizures a month to 15.8 over the course of the 12 week trial.

The study was published in the December 23, 2015 issue of The Lancet Neurology.

The patients in the trial were all between the ages of one and 30 with intractable epilepsies shown to be resistant to many if not all of the antiepileptic treatments, including drugs and a ketogenic diet. This includes children with Dravet syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that manifests in early childhood with frequent, disabling seizures often occurring daily and numbering into the hundreds, as well as profound cognitive and social deficits.

"This trial is pioneering a new treatment for children with the most severe epilepsies, for whom nothing else works," said Cilio. "This is just the first step. This open label study found that CBD both reduces the frequency of seizures and has an adequate safety profile in children and young adults. Randomized controlled trials are the next step to characterize the true efficacy and safety profile of this promising compound."

UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital San Francisco was the first site to ever administer Epidiolex in a child with epilepsy. In April 2013, the drug was given to a patient after obtaining a special approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's Investigational New Drug (IND) program, and results from that initial experience provided the framework for the current study, according to the researchers. A second patient was then enrolled at UCSF in July 2013, and in January 2014 UCSF and other centers started to enroll patients under an expanded access IND.

Produced by the biopharmaceutical company GW Pharmaceuticals, Epidiolex is considered a schedule 1 substance, meaning it has a high potential for abuse, and is closely monitored and restricted by the FDA. GW Pharmaceuticals supplied the cannabidiol for the study, but had no role in the study design, data analysis, data interpretation, writing of the study, or publication submission. The study was also funded by the Epilepsy Therapy Project of the Epilepsy Foundation, and Finding A Cure for Epilepsy and Seizures (FACES).
-end-
The other centers involved in the research included: NYU Epilepsy Center, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Mass General Hospital for Children, Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago, Miami Children's Hospital, Pediatric and Adolescent Neurodevelopmental Associates (Atlanta, GA), Texas Children's Hospital, University of Utah Medical Center and Primary Children's Hospital, Wake Forest School of Medicine and Nationwide Children's Hospital.

About UCSF: UC San Francisco (UCSF) is a leading university dedicated to promoting health worldwide through advanced biomedical research, graduate-level education in the life sciences and health professions, and excellence in patient care. It includes top-ranked graduate schools of dentistry, medicine, nursing and pharmacy, a graduate division with nationally renowned programs in basic, biomedical, translational and population sciences, as well as a preeminent biomedical research enterprise and UCSF Health, which includes two top-ranked hospitals, UCSF Medical Center and UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital San Francisco, as well as other partner and affiliated hospitals and healthcare providers throughout the Bay Area. Please visit http://www.ucsf.edu/news.

University of California - San Francisco

Related Epilepsy Articles:

Antibodies in the brain trigger epilepsy
Certain forms of epilepsy are accompanied by inflammation of important brain regions.
Breaching the brain's defense causes epilepsy
Epileptic seizures can happen to anyone. But how do they occur and what initiates such a rapid response?
Using connectomics to understand epilepsy
Abnormalities in structural brain networks and how brain regions communicate may underlie a variety of disorders, including epilepsy, which is one focus of a two-part Special Issue on the Brain Connectome in Brain Connectivity, a peer-reviewed journal from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers.
Epilepsy: Triangular relationship in the brain
When an epileptic seizure occurs in the brain, the nerve cells lose their usual pattern and fire in a very fast rhythm.
How concussions may lead to epilepsy
Researchers have identified a cellular response to repeated concussions that may contribute to seizures in mice like those observed following traumatic brain injury in humans.
Understanding epilepsy in pediatric tumors
A KAIST research team led by Professor Jeong Ho Lee of the Graduate School of Medical Science and Engineering has recently identified a neuronal BRAF somatic mutation that causes intrinsic epileptogenicity in pediatric brain tumors.
Can medical marijuana help treat intractable epilepsy?
A new British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology review examines the potential of medicinal cannabis -- or medical marijuana -- for helping patients with intractable epilepsy, in which seizures fail to come under control with standard anticonvulsant treatment.
Fertility rates no different for women with epilepsy
'Myth-busting' study among women with no history of infertility finds that those with epilepsy are just as likely to become pregnant as those without.
Do women with epilepsy have similar likelihood of pregnancy?
Women with epilepsy without a history of infertility or related disorders who wanted to become pregnant were about as likely as their peers without epilepsy to become pregnant.
Hope for new treatment of severe epilepsy
Researchers at Lund University in Sweden believe they have found a method that in the future could help people suffering from epilepsy so severe that all current treatment is ineffective.
More Epilepsy News and Epilepsy Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Listen Again: Reinvention
Change is hard, but it's also an opportunity to discover and reimagine what you thought you knew. From our economy, to music, to even ourselves–this hour TED speakers explore the power of reinvention. Guests include OK Go lead singer Damian Kulash Jr., former college gymnastics coach Valorie Kondos Field, Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs, and entrepreneur Nick Hanauer.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#562 Superbug to Bedside
By now we're all good and scared about antibiotic resistance, one of the many things coming to get us all. But there's good news, sort of. News antibiotics are coming out! How do they get tested? What does that kind of a trial look like and how does it happen? Host Bethany Brookeshire talks with Matt McCarthy, author of "Superbugs: The Race to Stop an Epidemic", about the ins and outs of testing a new antibiotic in the hospital.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Dispatch 6: Strange Times
Covid has disrupted the most basic routines of our days and nights. But in the middle of a conversation about how to fight the virus, we find a place impervious to the stalled plans and frenetic demands of the outside world. It's a very different kind of front line, where urgent work means moving slow, and time is marked out in tiny pre-planned steps. Then, on a walk through the woods, we consider how the tempo of our lives affects our minds and discover how the beats of biology shape our bodies. This episode was produced with help from Molly Webster and Tracie Hunte. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.