Epidiolex as adjunct therapy for treatment of refractory epilepsy: a comprehensive review with a focus on adverse effects.

 

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“Medically refractory epilepsy remains an area of intense clinical and scientific interest since a significant porportion of patients continue to suffer from debilitating seizures despite available therapies. In this setting, recent studies have focused on assessing the benefits of cannabidiol (CBD)-enriched cannabis, a plant based product without psychoactive properties which has been shown to decrease seizure frequency in animal models. More recently, several randomized controlled and open label trials have studied the effects of Epidiolex, a 99% pure oral CBD extract, on patients with refractory epilepsy. This in turn has led to the FDA approval of and more recently, to the Drug Enforcement Administration’s placement of Epidiolex into schedule V of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). In this review, we summarize the major findings of several recent large-scale studies using this product with a focus on its adverse effects.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30854190

“The recent FDA approval of Epidiolex combined with the placement of this compound in schedule V of the CSA (the least restrictive schedule of the CSA) has created a much-needed opportunity for the continued study of high-concentration, regulated CBD as a potential therapy for refractory epilepsy. Although recent RCTs and open-label extended-access programs have already demonstrated significant improvement in seizure frequency and severity with a relatively well-tolerated side effect profile for this compound, continued monitoring of Epidiolex is needed to further asses the long-term safety and efficacy, particularly with regard to immune, cognitive, hormonal, and reproductive function. Furthermore, there have been no large-scale RCTs demonstrating significant seizure reduction with Epidiolex in patients with focal onset seizures. Nonetheless, to date, Epidiolex has proven to be an attractive treatment option for an otherwise devastating group of epileptic syndromes. Future studies expanding our knowledge of this compound will be helpful in better understanding its role in the future of epilepsy treatment.”  https://f1000research.com/articles/8-234/v1

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Cannabis and Its Secondary Metabolites: Their Use as Therapeutic Drugs, Toxicological Aspects, and Analytical Determination.

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“Although the medicinal properties of Cannabis species have been known for centuries, the interest on its main active secondary metabolites as therapeutic alternatives for several pathologies has grown in recent years. This potential use has been a revolution worldwide concerning public health, production, use and sale of cannabis, and has led inclusively to legislation changes in some countries. The scientific advances and concerns of the scientific community have allowed a better understanding of cannabis derivatives as pharmacological options in several conditions, such as appetite stimulation, pain treatment, skin pathologies, anticonvulsant therapy, neurodegenerative diseases, and infectious diseases. However, there is some controversy regarding the legal and ethical implications of their use and routes of administration, also concerning the adverse health consequences and deaths attributed to marijuana consumption, and these represent some of the complexities associated with the use of these compounds as therapeutic drugs. This review comprehends the main secondary metabolites of Cannabis, approaching their therapeutic potential and applications, as well as their potential risks, in order to differentiate the consumption as recreational drugs. There will be also a focus on the analytical methodologies for their analysis, in order to aid health professionals and toxicologists in cases where these compounds are present.”

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The Endocannabinoid System, Our Universal Regulator

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“The endocannabinoid system (ECS) plays a very important role in the human body for our survival. This is due to its ability to play a critical role in maintaining the homeostasis of the human body, which encompasses the brain, endocrine, and immune system, to name a few. ECS is a unique system in multiple dimensions.

To begin with, it is a retrograde system functioning post- to pre-synapse, allowing it to be a “master regulator” in the body. Secondly, it has a very wide scope of influence due to an abundance of cannabinoid receptors located anywhere from immune cells to neurons. Finally, cannabinoids are rapidly synthesized and degraded, so they do not stay in the body for very long in high amounts, possibly enabling cannabinoid therapy to be a safer alternative to opioids or benzodiazepines. This paper will discuss how ECS functions through the regulation of neurotransmitter function, apoptosis, mitochondrial function, and ion-gated channels. The practical applications of the ECS, as well as the avenues for diseases such as epilepsy, cancer, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and autism, which have no known cure as of now, will be explored.

The ECS is one of the, if not the most, important systems in our body. Its role in the homeostatic function of our body is undeniable, and its sphere of influence is incredible. Additionally, it also plays a major role in apoptotic diseases, mitochondrial function, and brain function.

Its contribution is more than maintaining homeostasis; it also has a profound ability in regulation. Working in a retrograde fashion and with a generally inhibitory nature, ECS can act as a “kill switch.” However, it has been shown to play an inhibitory or stimulatory role based on the size of the influx of cannabinoids, resulting in a bimodal regulation. Furthermore, due to the nature of the rate of degradation of cannabinoids, it does not have as many long-term side effects as most of the current drugs on the market.

The ECS may not only provide answers for diseases with no known cures, but it could change the way we approach medicine. This system would allow us to change our focus from invasive pharmacological interventions (i.e. SSRIs for depression, benzodiazepines for anxiety, chemotherapies for cancer) to uncovering the mystery of why the body is failing to maintain homeostasis. Understanding the roles of ECS in these diseases confers a new direction for medicine which may eradicate the use of some of the less tolerable therapeutics.”

https://www.jyi.org/2018-june/2018/6/1/the-endocannabinoid-system-our-universal-regulator

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Increased expression of cannabinoid CB2 and serotonin 5-HT1A heteroreceptor complexes in a model of newborn hypoxic-ischemic brain damage.

Neuropharmacology

“Preclinical work shows cannabidiol as a promising drug to manage neonatal hypoxic-ischemic brain damage (NHIBD). The molecular mechanism is not well defined but the beneficial effects of this phytocannabinoid are blocked by antagonists of both cannabinoid CB2(CB2R) and serotonin 5-HT1A (5-HT1AR) receptors that, in addition, may form heteromers in a heterologous expression system. Using bioluminescence energy transfer, we have shown a direct interaction of the two receptors that leads to a particular signaling in a heterologous system. A property attributed to the heteromer, namely cross-antagonism, was found in primary cultures of neurons thus indicating the occurrence of the receptor heteromer in the CNS. Oxygen-glucose deprivation to neurons led to an increase of CB2R-mediated signaling and an upregulation of CB2-5-HT1A heteroreceptor complex expression. In situ proximity ligation assays in brain cortical section were performed to compare the expression of CB2-5-HT1A complexes in rat E20 fetuses and at different postnatal days. The expression, which is elevated in fetus and shortly after birth, was sharply reduced at later ages (even at P7). The expression of heteromer receptors was more marked in a model of NHIBD and, remarkably, the drop in expression was significantly delayed with respect to controls. These results indicate that CB2-5-HT1A heteroreceptor complex may be considered as a target in the therapy of the NHIBD.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30738036

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0028390819300462?via%3Dihub

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Synthetic Cannabinoids Influence the Invasion of Glioblastoma Cell Lines in a Cell- and Receptor-Dependent Manner.

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“The current treatment of glioblastoma is not sufficient, since they are heterogeneous and often resistant to chemotherapy.

Earlier studies demonstrated effects of specific cannabinoid receptor (CB) agonists on the invasiveness of glioblastoma cell lines, but the exact mechanism remained unclear.

Three human glioblastoma cell lines were treated with synthetic CB ligands. The effect of cannabinoids on microRNAs (miRs), Akt, and on the expression of proliferation and apoptosis markers were analyzed.

Furthermore, in a model of organotypic hippocampal slice cultures cannabinoid mediated changes in the invasiveness were assessed. MicroRNAs and the activation of Akt which are related to cell migration, apoptosis, and proliferation were evaluated and found not to be associated with changes in the invasiveness after treatment with CB ligands.

Also proliferation and/or apoptosis were not altered after treatment. The effects of cannabinoids on invasiveness could be blocked by the application of receptor antagonists and are likely mediated via CB₁/CB₂.

In conclusion, our results suggest that cannabinoids can influence glioblastoma cell invasion in a receptor and cell type specific manner that is independent of proliferation and apoptosis. Thus, cannabinoids can potentially be used in the future as an addition to current therapy.”

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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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Reduction of Benzodiazepine Use in Patients Prescribed Medical Cannabis

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Benzodiazepines are a class of medication with sedative properties, commonly used for anxiety and other neurological conditions. These medications are associated with several well-known adverse effects.

This observational study aims to investigate the reduction of benzodiazepine use in patients using prescribed medical cannabis.

Within a cohort of 146 patients initiated on medical cannabis therapy, 45.2% patients successfully discontinued their pre-existing benzodiazepine therapy.

Medical cannabis remains a controversial but potentially effective treatment for patients suffering from a variety of medical conditions. Within a cohort of patients initiated on medical cannabis therapy, a large proportion successfully discontinued their pre-existing benzodiazepine therapy.

This study therefore supports the continued research of medical cannabis and urges further exploration into its therapeutic value.”

https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/10.1089/can.2018.0020

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Cannabinoid Receptor as a potential therapeutic target for Parkinson’s Disease.

Brain Research Bulletin

“Parkinson’s disease (PD) is the second most prevalent neurodegenerative disease, characterized by the loss of dopaminergic neurons from substantia nigra pars compacta of basal ganglia caused due to gene mutation, misfolded protein aggregation, reactive oxygen species generation and inflammatory stress. Degeneration of dopaminergic neurons results in muscle stiffness, uncoordinated body movements, sleep disturbance, fatigue, amnesia and impaired voice.

Currently, levodopa (L-DOPA) administration is the most widely used therapy for PD. But prolonged administration of L-DOPA is associated with the symptoms of dyskinesia.

However, emerging evidences suggest the role of cannabinoid receptors (CBRs) in curtailing the progression of PD by activating neuroprotective pathways. Hence, cannabinoid therapy could be a promising alternative to combat PD in future.

In the present review we have discussed the potential role of CBRs in attenuating the key mechanisms of PD and how the existing research gaps needs to be bridged in order to understand the molecular mechanism of CBRs in detail.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30664919

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0361923018306208?via%3Dihub

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Do Endocannabinoids Regulate Glucose Reabsorption in the Kidney?

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“Diabetic nephropathy (DN), a distinct manifestation of diabetic kidney disease, affects approximately 30% of patients with diabetes. While most attention has been focused on glomerular changes related to DN, there is growing evidence that tubulopathy is a key feature in the pathogenesis of this disease. The renal proximal tubule cells (RPTCs) are particularly sensitive to the deleterious effect of chronic hyperglycemia. However, the cellular changes that control the dysfunction of the RPTCs are not fully understood.

Controlling glucose reabsorption in the proximal tubules via inhibition of glucose transporters (GLUT) has emerged as a promising therapeutic in ameliorating DN.

Overactivation of the renal endocannabinoid (eCB) system via the cannabinoid-1 receptor (CB1R) contributes to the development of DN, and its blockade by globally acting or peripherally restricted CB1R antagonists has been shown to ameliorate renal dysfunction in different murine models for diabetes. Recently, we have utilized various pharmacological and genetic tools to show that the eCB/CB1R system contributes to the development of DN via regulating the expression, translocation, and activity of the facilitative GLUT2 located in the RPTCs.

These findings have the potential to be translated into therapy, and support the rationale for the preclinical development of novel renal-specific CB1R and/or GLUT2 inhibitors for the treatment of DN.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30636250

https://www.karger.com/Article/FullText/494512

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Cannabis and Turmeric as Complementary Treatments for IBD and Other Digestive Diseases.

 “Complementary therapies for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) have earned growing interest from patients and investigators alike, with a dynamic landscape of research in this area. In this article, we review results of the most recent studies evaluating the role of cannabis and turmeric for the treatment of IBD and other intestinal illnesses.

RECENT FINDINGS:

Cannabinoids are well-established modulators of gut motility and visceral pain and have demonstrated anti-inflammatory properties. Clinical trials suggest that there may be a therapeutic role for cannabinoid therapy in the treatment of IBD, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), nausea and vomiting, and GI motility disorders. Recent reports of serious adverse effects from synthetic cannabinoids highlight the need for additional investigation of cannabinoids to establish their efficacy and safety. Turmeric trials have demonstrated some promise as adjuvant treatment for IBD, though not in other GI disease processes. Evidence suggests that the use of cannabis and turmeric is potentially beneficial in IBD and IBS; however, neither has been compared to standard therapy in IBD, and thus should not be recommended as alternative treatment for IBD. For cannabis in particular, additional investigation regarding appropriate dosing and timing, given known adverse effects of its chronic use, and careful monitoring of potential bleeding complications with synthetic cannabinoids are imperative.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30635796

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs11894-019-0670-0

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