Medical cannabis: A needs analysis for people with epilepsy.

Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice

“Medical cannabis may be effective treatment for refractory epilepsy.

It is timely to seek users’ and potential users’ opinions in regard to its place in the management of epilepsy.

RESULTS:

People with epilepsy (33/71) and carers (38/71) participated. Fifty-four participants indicated no experience with medical cannabis, although 35, mainly with inadequate response to prescription medicines, were willing to ask for a prescription. Concerns included difficulty accessing cannabis and high cost of this treatment. Tablets/capsules was the most acceptable dosage form for development.

CONCLUSION:

These findings suggest wide interest in trialling medical cannabis in individual cases of refractory epilepsy, despite the developing body of literature and some concerns about cost and procurement.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30396625

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1744388118302354?via%3Dihub

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Efficacy of cannabinoids in paediatric epilepsy.

Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology banner

“There are hundreds of compounds found in the marijuana plant, each contributing differently to the antiepileptic and psychiatric effects. Cannabidiol (CBD) has the most evidence of antiepileptic efficacy and does not have the psychoactive effects of ∆9 -tetrahydrocannabinol. CBD does not act via cannabinoid receptors and its antiepileptic mechanism of action is unknown. Despite considerable community interest in the use of CBD for paediatric epilepsy, there has been little evidence for its use apart from anecdotal reports, until the last year. Three randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind trials in Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome found that CBD produced a 38% to 41% median reduction in all seizures compared to 13% to 19% on placebo. Similarly, CBD resulted in a 39% to 46% responder rate (50% convulsive or drop-seizure reduction) compared to 14% to 27% on placebo. CBD was well tolerated; however, sedation, diarrhoea, and decreased appetite were frequent. CBD shows similar efficacy to established antiepileptic drugs. WHAT THIS PAPER ADDS: Cannabidiol (CBD) shows similar efficacy in the severe paediatric epilepsies to other antiepileptic drugs. Careful down-titration of benzodiazepines is essential to minimize sedation with adjunctive CBD.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30402932

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/dmcn.14087

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Efficacy and Safety of Cannabidiol in Epilepsy: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.

 Image result for drugs journal“Approximately one-third of patients with epilepsy presents seizures despite adequate treatment. Hence, there is the need to search for new therapeutic options. Cannabidiol (CBD) is a major chemical component of the resin of Cannabis sativa plant, most commonly known as marijuana. The anti-seizure properties of CBD do not relate to the direct action on cannabinoid receptors, but are mediated by a multitude of mechanisms that include the agonist and antagonist effects on ionic channels, neurotransmitter transporters, and multiple 7-transmembrane receptors. In contrast to tetra-hydrocannabinol, CBD lacks psychoactive properties, does not produce euphoric or intrusive side effects, and is largely devoid of abuse liability.

OBJECTIVE:

The aim of the study was to estimate the efficacy and safety of CBD as adjunctive treatment in patients with epilepsy using meta-analytical techniques.

METHODS:

Randomized, placebo-controlled, single- or double-blinded add-on trials of oral CBD in patients with uncontrolled epilepsy were identified. Main outcomes included the percentage change and the proportion of patients with ≥ 50% reduction in monthly seizure frequency during the treatment period and the incidence of treatment withdrawal and adverse events (AEs).

RESULTS:

Four trials involving 550 patients with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS) and Dravet syndrome (DS) were included. The pooled average difference in change in seizure frequency during the treatment period resulted 19.5 [95% confidence interval (CI) 8.1-31.0; p = 0.001] percentage points between the CBD 10 mg and placebo groups and 19.9 (95% CI 11.8-28.1; p < 0.001) percentage points between the CBD 20 mg and placebo arms, in favor of CBD. The reduction in all-types seizure frequency by at least 50% occurred in 37.2% of the patients in the CBD 20 mg group and 21.2% of the placebo-treated participants [risk ratio (RR) 1.76, 95% CI 1.07-2.88; p = 0.025]. Across the trials, drug withdrawal for any reason occurred in 11.1% and 2.6% of participants receiving CBD and placebo, respectively (RR 3.54, 95% CI 1.55-8.12; p = 0.003) [Chi squared = 2.53, degrees of freedom (df) = 3, p = 0.506; I2 = 0.0%]. The RRs to discontinue treatment were 1.45 (95% CI 0.28-7.41; p = 0.657) and 4.20 (95% CI 1.82-9.68; p = 0.001) for CBD at the doses of 10 and 20 mg/kg/day, respectively, in comparison to placebo. Treatment was discontinued due to AEs in 8.9% and 1.8% of patients in the active and control arms, respectively (RR 5.59, 95% CI 1.87-16.73; p = 0.002). The corresponding RRs for CBD at the doses of 10 and 20 mg/kg/day were 1.66 (95% CI 0.22-12.86; p = 0.626) and 6.89 (95% CI 2.28-20.80; p = 0.001). AEs occurred in 87.9% and 72.2% of patients treated with CBD and placebo (RR 1.22, 95% CI 1.11-1.33; p < 0.001). AEs significantly associated with CBD were somnolence, decreased appetite, diarrhea, and increased serum aminotransferases.

CONCLUSIONS:

Adjunctive CBD in patients with LGS or DS experiencing seizures uncontrolled by concomitant anti-epileptic treatment regimens is associated with a greater reduction in seizure frequency and a higher rate of AEs than placebo.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30390221

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Abuse potential assessment of cannabidiol (CBD) in recreational polydrug users: A randomized, double-blind, controlled trial.

“Treatment with a highly purified oral solution of cannabidiol (CBD), derived from the plant Cannabis sativa L., demonstrated some evidence of central nervous system (CNS)-related adverse events in patients enrolled in phase 3 trials for treatment of childhood-onset epilepsy. Cannabidiol was categorized as a Schedule 1 substance by the United States Drug Enforcement Administration; therefore, it was important to test CBD for human abuse potential.

Administration of a therapeutic dose of CBD (750 mg) showed significantly low abuse potential in a highly sensitive population of polydrug users. Although high and supratherapeutic doses of CBD (1500 mg and 4500 mg, respectively) had detectable subjective effects compared with placebo; the effects were significantly lower than those observed with alprazolam and dronabinol.

The majority of adverse events reported during the trial were of mild or moderate severity; no serious adverse events or deaths were reported.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30286443

https://www.epilepsybehavior.com/article/S1525-5050(18)30483-9/fulltext

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Potential Clinical Benefits of CBD-Rich Cannabis Extracts Over Purified CBD in Treatment-Resistant Epilepsy: Observational Data Meta-analysis.

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“This meta-analysis paper describes the analysis of observational clinical studies on the treatment of refractory epilepsy with cannabidiol (CBD)-based products. Beyond attempting to establish the safety and efficacy of such products, we also investigated if there is enough evidence to assume any difference in efficacy between CBD-rich extracts compared to purified CBD products.

The systematic search took place in February/2017 and updated in December/2017 using the keywords “epilepsy” or “Dravet” or “Lennox-Gastaut” or “CDKL5” combined with “Cannabis,” “cannabinoid,” “cannabidiol,” or “CBD” resulting in 199 papers.

The qualitative assessment resulted in 11 valid references, with an average impact factor of 8.1 (ranging from 1.4 to 47.8). The categorical data of a total of 670 patients were analyzed by Fischer test. The average daily dose ranged between 1 and 50 mg/kg, with treatment length from 3 to 12 months (mean 6.2 months).

Two thirds of patients reported improvement in the frequency of seizures (399/622, 64%). There were more reports of improvement from patients treated with CBD-rich extracts (318/447, 71%) than patients treated with purified CBD (81/223, 36%), with statistical significance (p < 0.0001).

Nevertheless, when the standard clinical threshold of a “50% reduction or more in the frequency of seizures” was applied, only 39% of the individuals were considered “responders,” and there was no difference (p = 0.56) between treatments with CBD-rich extracts (97/255, 38%) and purified CBD (94/223, 42%).

Patients treated with CBD-rich extracts reported lower average dose (6.1 mg/kg/day) than those using purified CBD (27.1 mg/kg/day). The reports of mild (109/285 vs. 291/346, p < 0.0001) and severe (23/285 vs. 77/346, p < 0.0001) adverse effects were more frequent in products containing purified CBD than in CBD-rich extracts.

CBD-rich extracts seem to present a better therapeutic profile than purified CBD, at least in this population of patients with refractory epilepsy. The roots of this difference is likely due to synergistic effects of CBD with other phytocompounds (aka Entourage effect), but this remains to be confirmed in controlled clinical studies.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30258398

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fneur.2018.00759/full

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Cannabidiol for Treatment of Childhood Epilepsy-A Cross-Sectional Survey.

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“The interest in cannabidiol (CBD) for treatment of epilepsy has been increasing over the last years. However, practitioner’s attitudes concerning the use of CBD for epilepsy treatment appears to be divided and data about its clinical use in daily practice are not available.

Objective: To improve the knowledge about the current use of CBD amongst European practitioners treating children and adolescents for epilepsy.

Methods: Cross-sectional survey using an open-access online questionnaire for physicians treating children or adolescents for epilepsy within eight European countries from December 2017 to March 2018.

Results: One-hundred fifty-five physicians participated in the survey. CBD is increasingly used by 45% (69/155) of participants, treating a mean (range) number of 3 (1-35) with CBD. Only 48% of the participants prescribing CBD are exclusively using purified CBD to treat children and adolescents with epilepsy, the remainder also applies preparations containing delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Reported daily CBD doses range from < 10 to 50 mg/kg body weight. Management of CBD therapy in regard of monitoring side effects and adjusting concomitant therapy differs widely amongst participants. Their primary objective for commencing CBD is improving patient’s quality of life. Participants frequently receive inquiries about CBD treatment but only 40% may actively suggest CBD as a treatment option. Of the 85 participants currently not using CBD for epilepsy treatment, 70% would consider using CBD if available in their country of practice or given the opportunity to become familiar with this treatment option.

Conclusions: CBD is increasingly used by participating physicians but individual experience remains limited. There are very diverse opinions about the use of CBD to treat epilepsy in children and adolescents and widely differing views on how to manage the CBD treatment.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30258395

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fneur.2018.00731/full

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A prospective open-label trial of a CBD/THC cannabis oil in dravet syndrome.

 Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology banner

“Both Δ9 Tetrahydrocannabidiol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) components of cannabis, have been shown to have anticonvulsant effects.

Cannabis oils are used to treat seizures in drug-resistant epilepsy (DRE). Recent trials provide data on dosing, side effects, and efficacy of CBD, yet there is a paucity of information on THC in epilepsy.

Primary objective was to establish dosing and tolerability of TIL-TC150 – a cannabis plant extract produced by Tilray®, containing 100 mg/mL CBD and 2 mg/mL THC- in children with Dravet syndrome. Secondary objectives were to assess impact of therapy on seizures, electroencephalogram (EEG) and quality of life.

RESULTS:

Nineteen participants completed the 20-week intervention. Mean dose achieved was 13.3 mg/kg/day of CBD (range 7-16 mg/kg/day) and 0.27 mg/kg/day of THC (range 0.14-0.32 mg/kg/day). Adverse events, common during titration included somnolence, anorexia, and diarrhea. Abnormalities of liver transaminases and platelets were observed with concomitant valproic acid therapy. There was a statistically significant improvement in quality of life, reduction in EEG spike activity, and median motor seizure reduction of 70.6%, with 50% responder rate of 63%.

CONCLUSIONS:

TIL-TC150 was safe and well tolerated in our subjects. TIL-TC150 treatment resulted in a reduction in seizure counts, spike index on EEG, and improved quality of life measures. This study provides safety and dosing information for THC-containing cannabinoid preparations.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30250864

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/acn3.621

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Inhibitory effects of cannabidiol on voltage-dependent sodium currents.

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“Cannabis sativa contains many related compounds known as phytocannabinoids. The main psychoactive and non-psychoactive compounds are Δ9-tetrahydrocannabidiol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), respectively.

Much of the evidence for clinical efficacy of CBD-mediated anti-epileptic effects has been from case reports or smaller surveys. The mechanisms for CBD’s anticonvulsant effects are unclear and likely involve non-cannabinoid receptor pathways.

CBD is reported to modulate several ion channels, including sodium channels (Nav). Evaluating therapeutic mechanisms and safety of CBD demands a richer understanding of its interactions with central nervous system targets. Here, we used voltage-clamp electrophysiology of HEK-293 cells and iPSC neurons to characterize the effects of CBD on Nav channels.

Our results show that CBD inhibits hNav1.1-1.7 currents, with an IC50 of 1.9-3.8 μM, suggesting that this inhibition could occur at therapeutically relevant concentrations. A steep Hill slope of ~3 suggested multiple interactions of CBD with Nav channels. CBD exhibited resting-state blockade, became more potent at depolarized potentials, and also slowed recovery from inactivation, supporting the idea that CBD binding preferentially stabilizes inactivated Nav channel states. We also found that CBD inhibits other voltage-dependent currents from diverse channels, including bacterial homomeric Nav channel (NaChBac) and voltage-gated potassium channel subunit Kv2.1. Lastly, the CBD block of Nav was temperature-dependent, with potency increasing at lower temperatures.

We conclude that CBD’s mode of action likely involves (1) compound partitioning in lipid membranes, which alters membrane fluidity affecting gating, and (2) undetermined direct interactions with sodium and potassium channels, whose combined effects are loss of channel excitability.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30219789

http://www.jbc.org/content/early/2018/09/14/jbc.RA118.004929

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Cannabis for the Treatment of Epilepsy: an Update.

“For millennia, there has been interest in the use of cannabis for the treatment of epilepsy.

However, it is only recently that appropriately powered controlled studies have been completed. In this review, we present an update on the research investigating the use of cannabidiol (CBD), a non-psychoactive component of cannabis, in the treatment of epilepsy.

While the anticonvulsant mechanism of action of CBD has not been entirely elucidated, we discuss the most recent data available including its low affinity for the endocannabinoid receptors and possible indirect modulation of these receptors via blocking the breakdown of anandamide.

Additional targets include activation of the transient receptor potential of vanilloid type-1 (TRPV1), antagonist action at GPR55, targeting of abnormal sodium channels, blocking of T-type calcium channels, modulation of adenosine receptors, modulation of voltage-dependent anion selective channel protein (VDAC1), and modulation of tumor necrosis factor alpha release.

We also discuss the most recent studies on various artisanal CBD products conducted in patients with epilepsy in the USA and internationally. While a high percentage of patients in these studies reported improvement in seizures, these studies were either retrospective or conducted via survey. Dosage/preparation of CBD was either unknown or not controlled in the majority of these studies.

Finally, we present data from both open-label expanded access programs (EAPs) and randomized placebo-controlled trials (RCTs) of a highly purified oral preparation of CBD, which was recently approved by the FDA in the treatment of epilepsy.

In the EAPs, there was a significant improvement in seizure frequency seen in a large number of patients with various types of treatment-refractory epilepsy. The RCTs have shown significant seizure reduction compared to placebo in patients with Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome. Finally, we describe the available data on adverse effects and drug-drug interactions with highly purified CBD.

While this product is overall well tolerated, the most common side effects are diarrhea and sedation, with sedation being much more common in patients taking concomitant clobazam. There was also an increased incidence of aspartate aminotransferase and alanine aminotransferase elevations while taking CBD, with many of the patients with these abnormalities also taking concomitant valproate. CBD has a clear interaction with clobazam, significantly increasing the levels of its active metabolite N-desmethylclobazam in several studies; this is felt to be due to CBD’s inhibition of CYP2C19. EAP data demonstrate other possible interactions with rufinamide, zonisamide, topiramate, and eslicarbazepine. Additionally, there is one case report demonstrating need for warfarin dose adjustment with concomitant CBD.

Understanding of CBD’s efficacy and safety in the treatment of TRE has expanded significantly in the last few years. Future controlled studies of various ratios of CBD and THC are needed as there could be further therapeutic potential of these compounds for patients with epilepsy.”

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Anticonvulsant and Neuroprotective Effects of Cannabidiol During the Juvenile Period.

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“Anticonvulsant effects of cannabidiol (CBD), a nonpsychoactive cannabinoid, have not been investigated in the juvenile brain. We hypothesized that CBD would attenuate epileptiform activity at an age when the brain first becomes vulnerable to neurotoxicity and social/cognitive impairments.

To induce seizures, kainic acid (KA) was injected either into the hippocampus (KAih) or systemically (KAip) on postnatal (P) day 20. CBD was coadministered (KA + CBDih, KA + CBDip) or injected 30 minutes postseizure onset (KA/CBDih, KA/CBDip).

Hyperactivity, clonic convulsions, and electroencephalogram rhythmic oscillations were attenuated or absent after KA + CBDih and reduced after KA + CBDip. NeuN immunohistochemistry revealed neuroprotection.

Augmented reactive glia number and expression were reversed in CA1 but persisted deep within the dentate hilus. Parvalbumin-positive (PV+) interneurons were reduced in both models, whereas immunolabeling was dramatically increased within ipsilateral and contralateral dendritic/neuropilar fields following KA + CBDih. Cannabinoid receptor 1 (CB1) expression was minimally affected after KAih contrasting elevations observed after KAip.

Intracranial coadministration data suggest that CBD has higher efficacy in epilepsy with hippocampal focus rather than when extrahippocampal amygdala/cortical structures are triggered by systemic treatments. Inhibition of surviving PV+ and CB1+ interneurons may be facilitated by CBD implying a protective role in regulating hippocampal seizures and neurotoxicity at juvenile ages.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30169677

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