Cannabis for refractory epilepsy in children: A review focusing on CDKL5 Deficiency Disorder.

Epilepsy Research

“Severe paediatric epilepsies such as CDKL5 Deficiency Disorder (CDD) are extremely debilitating, largely due to the early-onset and refractory nature of the seizures. Existing treatment options are often ineffective and associated with a host of adverse effects, causing those that are affected to seek alternative treatments.

Cannabis based products have attracted significant attention over recent years, primarily driven by reports of miraculous cures and a renewed public preference for ‘natural’ therapies, thus placing intense pressure on health professionals and the government for regulatory change.

This study provides a comprehensive overview of the potential role for cannabis in the treatment of CDD. Key areas discussed include the history, mechanism of action, efficacy and safety of cannabis based preparations as well as the burden related to CDD.

The evidence supports the use of cannabinoids, especially cannabidiol, in similar forms of refractory epilepsy including Dravet and Lennox-Gastaut syndromes. Evidence for cannabinoids specifically in CDD is limited but growing, with multiple anecdotal reports and an open-label trial showing cannabidiol to be associated with a significant reduction in seizure activity.

This review provides the first comprehensive overview of the potential role for cannabis based preparations in the treatment of CDD and provides justification for further clinical and observational research.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30771550

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0920121118306107?via%3Dihub

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Cannabidiol in patients with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome: Interim analysis of an open-label extension study.

Epilepsia banner

“Patients with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS) who completed 1 of 2 randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials of add-on cannabidiol (CBD) (GWPCARE3, NCT02224560 or GWPCARE4, NCT02224690) were invited to enroll in an open-label extension (OLE) study evaluating the long-term safety and efficacy of CBD (GWPCARE5, NCT02224573). Herein we present an interim analysis of the safety, efficacy, and patient-reported outcomes from this trial.

METHODS:

Patients received a pharmaceutical formulation of highly purified CBD oral solution (Epidiolex; 100 mg/mL), titrated from 2.5 to 20 mg/kg/d over a 2-week titration period, in addition to their existing medications. Doses could be reduced if not tolerated or increased up to 30 mg/kg/d if thought to be of benefit.

RESULTS:

This interim analysis was based on a November 2016 data cut. Of 368 patients who completed treatment in GWPCARE3 and GWPCARE4, 366 (99.5%) enrolled in the OLE study (GWPCARE5). Median treatment duration was 38 weeks at a mean modal dose of 23 mg/kg/d. Most patients (92.1%) experienced adverse events (AEs), primarily of mild (32.5%) or moderate (43.4%) severity. The most common AEs were diarrhea (26.8%), somnolence (23.5%), and convulsion (21.3%). Thirty-five patients (9.6%) discontinued treatment due to AEs. Liver transaminase elevations were reported in 37 patients (10.1%), of whom 29 were receiving concomitant valproic acid; 34 cases resolved spontaneously or with dose modification of CBD or concomitant medication. Median reduction from baseline in drop seizure frequency (quantified monthly over 12-week periods) ranged from 48% to 60% through week 48. Median reduction in monthly total seizure frequency ranged from 48% to 57% across all 12-week periods through week 48. Eighty-eight percent of patients/caregivers reported an improvement in the patient’s overall condition per the Subject/Caregiver Global Impression of Change scale.

SIGNIFICANCE:

In this study, long-term add-on CBD treatment had an acceptable safety profile in patients with LGS and led to sustained reductions in seizures.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30740695

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/epi.14670

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Cannabinoid therapy in epilepsy.

 Image result for curr opin neurol“To review the history, pharmacology, and clinical science of cannabidiol (CBD) in the treatment of epilepsy.

RECENT FINDINGS:

Phase III randomized controlled trials and prospective open label trials have provided efficacy and safety data for the use of CBD in pediatric onset severe epilepsies. The product that was studied in the vast majority of these published trials, Epidiolex (>99% of CBD and <0.10% Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC); GW pharmaceuticals, Cambridge, UK), has now been FDA approved based on this published data.

SUMMARY:

Identification of CBD, Δ9-THC, and the endocannabinoid system in the mid-20th century has led to advancement of cannabis-based therapies for epilepsy. Based on clinical trial data, Epidiolex is the first CBD medication approved by a national regulatory agency (US Food and Drug Administration for Dravet and Lennox Gastaut syndrome; European Medicines Agency for Lennox Gastaut syndrome). Approval of CBD as a treatment for these rare and severe pediatric-onset epilepsy syndromes is an important milestone, but the complete spectrum of use of cannabis-derived products, and the use of CBD for other epilepsy syndromes remains to be determined.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30676535

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Epidiolex (Cannabidiol): A New Hope for Patients With Dravet or Lennox-Gastaut Syndromes.

 SAGE Journals

“OBJECTIVE: To review the efficacy, safety, pharmacology and pharmacokinetics of pure, plant-derived cannabidiol (CBD; Epidiolex) in the treatment of Dravet syndrome (DS) and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS).

DATA SYNTHESIS: Pure, plant-based CBD is a pharmaceutical grade extract that exhibits clinically significant antiseizure properties, with a hypothesized multimodal mechanism of action. In the GWPCARE trial series, CBD displayed superior efficacy in reducing key seizure frequencies (convulsive seizures in DS; drop seizures in LGS) by 17% to 23% compared with placebo as adjunctive therapy to standard antiepileptic drugs in patients 2 years of age and older. Common adverse effects were somnolence, diarrhea, and elevated hepatic transaminases. Noteworthy drug-drug interactions included clobazam, valproates, and significant inducers/inhibitors of CYP2C19 and 3A4 enzymes.

Relevance to Patient Care and Clinical Practice: A discussion regarding CBD dosing, administration, adverse effects, monitoring parameters, and interactions is provided to guide clinicians. CBD offers patients with DS and LGS a new treatment option for refractory seizures.

CONCLUSION:

This is the first cannabis-derived medication with approval from the US Food and Drug Administration. This CBD formulation significantly reduces seizures as an adjunct to standard antiepileptic therapies in patients ≥2 years old with DS and LGS and is well tolerated.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30616356

https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1060028018822124?journalCode=aopd

“Why marijuana is headed for the mainstream. The credibility of cannabis as a source of a legitimate pharmaceutical ingredient in prescription medications took a major step forward in 2018 when the FDA approved Epidiolex (cannabidiol) for two types of severe seizures. Epidiolex was a stellar candidate for approval. It reduced convulsive seizures by about 40% and has a good safety profile.”  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30620324

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Long-Term Safety, Tolerability, and Efficacy of Cannabidiol in Children with Refractory Epilepsy: Results from an Expanded Access Program in the US.

“Purified cannabidiol is a new antiepileptic drug that has recently been approved for use in patients with Lennox-Gastaut and Dravet syndromes, but most published studies have not extended beyond 12-16 weeks.

The objective of this study was to evaluate the long-term safety, tolerability, and efficacy of cannabidiol in children with epilepsy.

 

Twenty-six children were enrolled. Most had genetic epilepsies with daily or weekly seizures and multiple seizure types. All were refractory to prior antiepileptic drugs (range 4-11, mean 7), and were taking two antiepileptic drugs on average. Duration of therapy ranged from 4 to 53 months (mean 21 months). Adverse events were reported in 21 patients (80.8%), including reduced appetite in ten (38.4%), diarrhea in nine (34.6%), and weight loss in eight (30.7%). Four (15.4%) had changes in antiepileptic drug concentrations and three had elevated aspartate aminotransferase and alanine aminotransferase levels when cannabidiol was administered together with valproate. Serious adverse events, reported in six patients (23.1%), included status epilepticus in three, catatonia in two, and hypoalbuminemia in one. Fifteen patients (57.7%) discontinued cannabidiol for lack of efficacy, one because of status epilepticus, and one for severe weight loss. The retention rate declined rapidly in the first 6 months and more gradually thereafter. At 24 months, the number of patients continuing cannabidiol as adjunctive therapy was nine of the original 26 (34.6%). Of these patients, seven (26.9%) had a sustained > 50% reduction in motor seizures, including three (11.5%) who remain seizure free.

CONCLUSION:

Over a 4-year period, cannabidiol was effective in 26.9% of children with otherwise refractory epilepsy. It was well tolerated in about 20% of patients, but 80.8% had adverse events, including 23.1% with serious adverse events. Decreased appetite and diarrhea were frequent along with weight loss that became evident only later in the treatment.”

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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 &amp; 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.

Image result for frontiers in neurology

“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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