Research by pharmacologists at the University of Sydney provides new insight into how cannabis extracts can work to treat epilepsy.
The study reports for the first time that three acidic cannabinoids found in cannabis reduced seizures in a mouse model of Dravet syndrome, an insoluble form of childhood epilepsy.
The study was published in the British Journal of Pharmacology.
“Since the beginning of the 19th century, cannabis extracts have been used in Western medicine to treat seizures, but the prohibition of cannabis has hindered the advancement of science,” said associate professor Jonathon Arnold of the Lambert Initiative for Cannabinoid Therapeutics and the Sydney Pharmacy School.
“We are now in a position to explore how the compounds in this plant can be adapted to modern therapeutic treatments. “
In 2015, Barry and Joy Lambert made a historic donation to the University of Sydney to advance scientific research into medicinal cannabis and therapeutic cannabinoids. Barry and Joy’s granddaughter, Katelyn, suffers from Dravet syndrome, which is characterized by frequent seizures and leads to delays in cognitive and motor development. Conventional therapies often do not provide adequate seizure control and patients have a reduced quality of life.
The Lambert family say they have witnessed a dramatic improvement in Katelyn’s health using a cannabis extract and have become strong supporters of cannabis for therapeutic treatment. They also wanted to better understand how cannabis works to treat epilepsy and other health problems.
“After using hemp oil for the treatment, we got our daughter back. Instead of fearing constant crises, we had some hope that our daughter could have a life worth living. It was as if the noise had vanished from her mind and she was able to wake up. Today, Katelyn really loves her life, ”said Michael Lambert, Katelyn’s father.
In 2015, the Lambert Initiative set up a preclinical epilepsy research program to help understand how cannabis extracts, a mixture of hundreds of bioactive molecules, have anticonvulsant effects.
Associate Professor Arnold said: “Our research program systematically tests whether the different constituents of cannabis reduce seizures in a mouse model of Dravet syndrome. We started by testing the compounds individually and found several components of cannabis with anticonvulsant effects. “
“In this latest article, we describe the anticonvulsant effects of three rarer cannabinoids, all of which are cannabinoid acids. “