New research provides hope for those with epilepsy

April 11, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- Groundbreaking research from the University of Reading could reduce the number and severity of seizures for epileptics.

Successful results from recent studies have shown that three different non-psychoactive cannabis extracts can significantly reduce . During the next few months, Reading researchers will be completing pre-clinical work which could enable the start of human trials.

affects around 1% of the global population and approximately 30% of people with epilepsy have seizures which are not controlled by conventional anticonvulsant drugs. Moreover, these drugs are associated with significant motor and cognitive side-effects that adversely affect the quality of life of individuals dependent upon their daily use.

A research group at the University of Reading, led by Dr Ben Whalley, Dr Claire Williams and Dr Gary Stephens from the Departments of Pharmacy and Psychology, is looking at whether individual compounds derived from cannabis, known as cannabinoids, could provide a solution to some of these difficult to treat seizures.

The group has recently published highly promising results which demonstrate that three different non-psychoactive compounds isolated from the cannabis plant have the potential to be used for the therapeutic control of seizures in epilepsy. Cannabidiol, D9-tetrahydrocannabivarin and GWP42006 were shown to significantly reduce the number and severity of seizure episodes in rats.

Dr Whalley said: "Other leading institutions around the world are investigating the involvement of the cannabinoids that our own bodies' produce (endocannabinoids') in seizure susceptibility, while others are examining how this system changes in response to seizures.

"However, the University of Reading is leading the search for therapeutic components of phytocannabinoids - cannabinoids extracted from the C. sativa plant that limit or abolish such seizures. We hope that these findings will lead to new, better tolerated and more effective treatments for people with epilepsy, reducing the number and severity of seizure episodes."

Whilst cannabis has been used medically and recreationally for thousands of years, it was not until the 1960s that the psychoactive component of , D9-THC, was identified. Subsequently, other components were isolated and identified and a small scale human trial conducted during the early 80s suggested that at least one of these components could be of use in seizure control. However, this initial finding has not been properly followed up and expanded upon until the present time.

More information: The research has been funded by a 1million grant from GW Pharmaceuticals plc and Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co, Ltd.

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Researchers discover key signaling protein for muscle growth

November 20, 2017
Researchers at the University of Louisville have discovered the importance of a well-known protein, myeloid differentiation primary response gene 88 (MyD88), in the development and regeneration of muscles. Ashok Kumar, Ph.D., ...

New breast cell types discovered by multidisciplinary research team

November 20, 2017
A joint effort by breast cancer researchers and bioinformaticians has provided new insights into the molecular changes that drive breast development.

Brain cell advance brings hope for Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease

November 20, 2017
Scientists have developed a new system to study Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in the laboratory, paving the way for research to find treatments for the fatal brain disorder.

Hibernating ground squirrels provide clues to new stroke treatments

November 17, 2017
In the fight against brain damage caused by stroke, researchers have turned to an unlikely source of inspiration: hibernating ground squirrels.

Age and gut bacteria contribute to multiple sclerosis disease progression

November 17, 2017
Researchers at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School published a study suggesting that gut bacteria at young age can contribute to multiple sclerosis (MS) disease onset and progression.

Molecular guardian defends cells, organs against excess cholesterol

November 16, 2017
A team of researchers at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health has illuminated a critical player in cholesterol metabolism that acts as a molecular guardian in cells to help maintain cholesterol levels within a safe, ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.