Previously undiscovered cannibis compound could lead to improved epilepsy treatment

September 13, 2012

(Medical Xpress)—Scientists at the University of Reading have demonstrated for the first time that a previously unstudied chemical in cannabis could lead to more effective treatments for people with epilepsy.

The team at the University's Department of Pharmacy and School of Psychology have discovered that cannabidivarin (CBDV) - a largely ignored found in cannabis - has the potential to prevent more seizures, with few side effects such as uncontrollable shaking, caused by many existing anti-epileptic drugs.

In the study, carried out by the University of Reading in collaboration with GW Pharma and Otsuka Pharmaceuticals, cannabidivarin strongly suppressed seizures in six different commonly used in epilepsy .

Cannabidivarin was also found to work when combined with drugs currently used to control epilepsy and, unlike other cannabinoids (unique components in cannabis) such as THC, is not psychoactive and therefore does not cause users to feel 'high'.

The video will load shortly
Dr Ben Whalley talking about the discovery.

The findings are reported in the journal.

Dr Ben Whalley is leading the study at the University of Reading alongside colleagues Dr Gary Stephens and Dr Claire Williams.

Dr Whalley said: "This is an enormously exciting milestone in our investigations into non-psychoactive elements of cannabis as treatments for epilepsy.

"There is a pressing need for better treatments for epilepsy. It's a with no cure and currently in around one third of cases, the currently available treatments do not work, cause serious side-effects and increase fatalities. Currently prescribed drugs to prevent fits can cause significant side-effects to individuals' motion and that can adversely affect the quality of life for people who have to take them every day.

"Our work has highlighted the potential for a solution based on cannabinoid science.  It has shown that cannabidivarin is the most effective and best tolerated anticonvulsant plant cannabinoid investigated to date."

Dr Stephen Wright, R&D director at GW Pharmaceuticals said: "These results further underscore the potential of naturally-derived cannabinoids as medicines to treat a broad range of diseases. GW has established a track record of discovering and commercialising such compounds with Sativex now on the market for treating spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis and in late stage development for the treatment of cancer pain. Our research into CBDV has consistently produced highly promising results demonstrating its potential as a novel anticonvulsant and GW hopes during 2013 to advance CBDV into human clinical trials."

Following the discovery, scientists at Reading are investigating the mechanisms by which cannabidivarin works to reduce seizures and are testing CBDV in chronic models of epilepsy that closely mimic the clinical condition. This work will be completed by the end of 2012.

affects approximately 1% of people worldwide, and is caused by excessive electrical activity in the brain, which leads to that are in some cases fatal.

Explore further: New research provides hope for those with epilepsy

More information: Reference: Hill AJ, Mercier MS, Hill TDM, Glyn SE, Jones NA, Yamasaki Y et al. (2012) Cannabidivarin is anticonvulsant in mouse and rat in vitro and in seizure models.  Br J Pharmacol doi.wiley.com/10.1111/j.1476-5381.2012.02207.x

Related Stories

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.

Could cannabis-derived medicine help type 2 diabetes sufferers?

June 19, 2012
In an article published in today’s issue of the Society of Biology’s magazine, The Biologist, GW Pharmaceuticals’ Director of Botanical Research and Cultivation, Dr David Potter, discusses how cannabis could ...

Recommended for you

'Residual echo' of ancient humans in scans may hold clues to mental disorders

July 26, 2017
Researchers at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) have produced the first direct evidence that parts of our brains implicated in mental disorders may be shaped by a "residual echo" from our ancient past. The more ...

Cellular roots of anxiety identified

July 26, 2017
From students stressing over exams to workers facing possible layoffs, worrying about the future is a normal and universal experience. But when people's anticipation of bad things to come starts interfering with daily life, ...

Laser used to reawaken lost memories in mice with Alzheimer's disease

July 26, 2017
(Medical Xpress)—A team of researchers at Columbia University has found that applying a laser to the part of a mouse brain used for memory storage caused the mice to recall memories lost due to a mouse version of Alzheimer's ...

Brain disease seen in most football players in large report

July 25, 2017
Research on 202 former football players found evidence of a brain disease linked to repeated head blows in nearly all of them, from athletes in the National Football League, college and even high school.

Zebrafish study reveals clues to healing spinal cord injuries

July 25, 2017
Fresh insights into how zebrafish repair their nerve connections could hold clues to new therapies for people with spinal cord injuries.

Lutein may counter cognitive aging, study finds

July 25, 2017
Spinach and kale are favorites of those looking to stay physically fit, but they also could keep consumers cognitively fit, according to a new study from University of Illinois researchers.

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Shootist
3 / 5 (2) Sep 13, 2012
Cannabis. Like bacon, is there nothing it cannot do?

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.