British Study Shows Cannabis Capsules Fail To Slow MS
Posted by Marijuana Doctors on 08/07/2012 in Medical Marijuana Conditions
According to a recent large British study, cannabis capsules have failed to slow the progression of multiple sclerosis, dealing a major blow to hope that the drug could provide long-term benefits for patients that are suffering from the debilitating nerve disease.
Despite showing early promising signs in shorter studies conducted, researchers have found that patients who took capsules containing tetrahydrocannabinol, otherwise known as THC, fared no better than those given a placebo. Tetrahydrocannabinol is a key active ingredient in marijuana.
The findings are considered a great disappointment for researchers, who once thought that marijuana could provide a viable therapy in the diseases’ secondary progressive stage. This would have been a key when dealing with patients who are left with very few treatment options.
Multiple sclerosis patients were assessed in the trail known as CUPID, cannabinoid use in progressive inflammatory brain disease, on both a disability scale that was administered by neurologists and another based on their own reporting. Researchers led by John Zajicek of the Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry at Plymouth University said, “Overall the study found no evidence to support an effect of THC on MS progression in either of the main outcomes.” The results from the study were funded by Britain’s Medical Research Council, and will be presented on Tuesday at the Association of British Neurologists’ annual meeting held in Brighton.
Marijuana contains over sixty different types of cannabinoids, in which THC is seen to be the most active, and many multiple sclerosis patients have long vouched that the drug helps them cope with the effects of the debilitating disease. For a while, drug companies as well have been interested in marijuana as a medicine. Britain’s GW Pharmaceuticals, in cooperation with Bayer and Almirall, have recently started selling an under-the-tongue cannabis-related spray called Sativex that is said to relieve spasticity.
A professor of neuropsychopharmacology at Imperial College London, David Nutt, said the study’s failure does not mean that marijuana had no role in helping multiple sclerosis patients. Nutt was not involved in the latest research that took place. He said, “It would be wrong to interpret these preliminary findings to mean that cannabis does not achieve its licensed use. Cannabis is not licensed for limiting disease progression, it is licensed for dealing with spasticity and pain.”
As Zajicek’s study did not find any major effects, it did find that some evidence suggests a beneficial effect in less disabled patients, but this was only seen in a small group of people and was unclear as to exactly how strong the effect was. As the overall study population experienced slower disease progression than had been expected, it made it more challenging to detect any treatment effect.
Currently, around 85% of patients diagnosed with multiple sclerosis are suffering from relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis at diagnosis time. Relapsing remitting MS is currently the most common type. Several drugs are available to treat this stage of multiple sclerosis, which includes injections of beta-interfrons and a new pill from Novartis that is called Gilenya. A more advanced form of MS develops later on, known as secondary progressive MS, and involves a sustained build up of disability.