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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Epilepsy and Cannabis: A Literature Review.

 

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“Epilepsy is considered to be one of the most common non-communicable neurological diseases especially in low to middle-income countries. Approximately one-third of patients with epilepsy have seizures that are resistant to antiepileptic medications. Clinical trials for the treatment of medically refractory epilepsy have mostly focused on new drug treatments, and result in a significant portion of subjects whose seizures remain refractory to medication.

The off-label use of cannabis sativa plant in treating seizures is known since ancient times. The active ingredients of this plant are delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), the latter considered safer and more effective in treating seizures, and with less adverse psychotropic effects.

Clinical trials prior to two years ago have shown little to no significant effects of cannabis in reducing seizures. These trials seem to be underpowered, with a sample size less than 15. In contrast, more recent studies that have included over 100 participants showed that CBD use resulted in a significant reduction in seizure frequency.

Adverse effects of CBD overall appear to be benign, while more concerning adverse effects (e.g., elevated liver enzymes) improve with continued CBD use or dose reduction. In most of the trials, CBD is used in adjunct with epilepsy medication, therefore it remains to be determined whether CBD is itself antiepileptic or a potentiator of traditional antiepileptic medications. Future trials may evaluate the efficacy of CBD in treating seizures due to specific etiologies (e.g., post-traumatic, post-stroke, idiopathic).”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30443449

https://www.cureus.com/articles/14699-epilepsy-and-cannabis-a-literature-review

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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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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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Cannabidiol for Epilepsy: New Hope on the Horizon?

 Clinical Therapeutics Home

“Epilepsy is a common neurologic disorder; it is estimated that ∼50 million people are affected worldwide. About one third of those patients are drug resistant, defined as failure to stop all seizures despite adequate trials of at least 2 appropriate medications. There has been an enormous interest in developing antiepileptic drugs with novel mechanisms of action. This review discusses the evidence supporting the anticonvulsant properties of cannabis in humans, focusing on cannabidiol. We begin by exploring the early and somewhat anecdotal evidence that was recently replaced by high-quality data from randomized controlled studies, which subsequently led to the US Food and Drug Administration approval of a purified cannabidiol extract for the treatment of 2 highly refractory pediatric epilepsy syndromes (Dravet and Lennox-Gastaut).”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30150078

https://www.clinicaltherapeutics.com/article/S0149-2918(18)30325-4/fulltext

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Efficacy and Safety of Adjunctive Cannabidiol in Patients with Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.

“Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS) is a severe developmental epileptic encephalopathy, and available interventions fail to control seizures in most patients. Cannabidiol (CBD) is a major chemical of marijuana, which has anti-seizure properties and different mechanisms of action compared with other approved antiepileptic drugs (AEDs).

OBJECTIVE:

The aim was to evaluate the efficacy and safety of CBD as adjunctive treatment for seizures in patients with LGS using meta-analytical techniques.

METHODS:

Randomized, placebo-controlled, single- or double-blinded trials were identified. Main outcomes included the ≥ 50% reduction in baseline drop and non-drop seizure frequency, and the incidence of treatment withdrawal and adverse events (AEs). Risk ratios (RRs) with 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were estimated through the inverse variance method.

RESULTS:

Two trials were included involving 396 participants. Patients presenting ≥ 50% reduction in drop seizure frequency during the treatment were 40.0% with CBD and 19.3% with placebo [RR 2.12 (95% CI 1.48-3.03); p < 0.001]. The rate of non-drop seizure frequency was reduced by 50% or more in 49.4% of patients in the CBD and 30.4% in the placebo arms [RR 1.62 (95% CI 1.09-2.43); p = 0.018]. The RR for CBD withdrawal was 4.93 (95% CI 1.50-16.22; p = 0.009). The RR to develop any AE during CBD treatment was 1.24 (95% CI 1.11-1.38; p < 0.001). AEs significantly associated with CBD were somnolence, decreased appetite, diarrhea and increased serum aminotransferases.

CONCLUSIONS:

Adjunctive CBD resulted in a greater reduction in seizure frequency and a higher rate of AEs than placebo in patients with LGS presenting seizures uncontrolled by concomitant AEDs.”

“Cannabidiol in the Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome.”  https://www.nejm.org/doi/10.1056/NEJMc1807878

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Composition and Use of Cannabis Extracts for Childhood Epilepsy in the Australian Community

Scientific Reports

“Recent surveys suggest that many parents are using illicit cannabis extracts in the hope of managing seizures in their children with epilepsy. In the current Australian study we conducted semi-structured interviews with families of children with diverse forms of epilepsy to explore their attitudes towards and experiences with using cannabis extracts.

Contrary to family’s expectations, most samples contained low concentrations of cannabidiol, while Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol was present in nearly every sample. These findings highlight profound variation in the illicit cannabis extracts being currently used in Australia and warrant further investigations into the therapeutic value of cannabinoids in epilepsy.

The phenomenon is not without supporting scientific evidence. Many preclinical studies have identified potent anticonvulsant effects of various cannabinoids in animal models of epilepsy, and a mechanistic understanding of such effects is emerging.

A considerable proportion of families reported cannabis extracts being “effective” in reducing their child’s seizure burden and improving their overall condition, with one family reporting seizure-freedom in their child for at least 12 months. Over half of the cannabis extracts were associated with families reducing or ceasing their use of the child’s conventional antiepileptic drugs.”

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-018-28127-0

“Cannabis chemical THC could be missing ‘piece to the puzzle’ in treating kids with epilepsy” http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-07-05/epilepsy-treatment-cannabis-chemical-thc/9944878

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Effect of Cannabidiol on Drop Seizures in the Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome.

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“Cannabidiol has been used for treatment-resistant seizures in patients with severe early-onset epilepsy.

We investigated the efficacy and safety of cannabidiol added to a regimen of conventional antiepileptic medication to treat drop seizures in patients with the Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, a severe developmental epileptic encephalopathy.

Among children and adults with the Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, the addition of cannabidiol at a dose of 10 mg or 20 mg per kilogram per day to a conventional antiepileptic regimen resulted in greater reductions in the frequency of drop seizures than placebo.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29768152

https://www.nejm.org/doi/10.1056/NEJMoa1714631

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Reefer to the Rescue: The Dope on Cannabidiol as a Multi-Symptom Panacea for Dravet Syndrome

American Epilepsy Society

“Dravet syndrome (DS) is a debilitating developmental disorder typified by severe seizures and delayed onset of psychomotor deficits.

In addition to increasing the risk for sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP), the medically refractory status epilepticus in DS can be life-threatening, which makes it crucial to identify drugs to reduce seizures.

The quest for a viable drug to limit seizures in DS has intersected with the recent excitement over the potential use of cannabinoids as antiepileptic agents, leading to extensive anecdotal reports of the potential for cannabinoids to limit seizures in DS

Cannabinoids are active derivatives of the marijuana plant, Cannabis sativa.

The study reveals a strong preclinical basis for the use of CBD in DS. They find that CBD pre-treatment reduces both duration and severity of thermally-induced behavioral seizures.

In conclusion, Kaplan and colleagues provide the first preclinical demonstration that CBD may help alleviate seizures in a mouse model of DS validating the translational potential of CBD in patients with DS.

The demonstration that CBD improves deficits in social interactions in DS launches an exciting therapeutic possibility of alleviating behavioral impairments that persist beyond the seizures and pave the way for mechanistic studies that could positively impact treatment of autism spectrum disorders.”

http://epilepsycurrents.org/doi/10.5698/1535-7597.18.2.118?code=amep-site

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