The University of Saskatchewan is launching a study to test the effectiveness of using cannabis to treat children with epilepsy.
The Pediatrics Department will be spearheading the study, which wants to see if a high concentration of cannabidiol (CBD) can be used safely in children with epilepsy and if it will impact seizures and quality of life.
Researchers at the University of Alberta, the University of British Columbia, McGill University and the Université de Montréal are also participating and recruiting 30 children up to age 10 who suffer from epilepsy severe enough to cause cognitive impairment that can’t be controlled with existing medical treatments.
“Many of these children have adverse reactions to any of the treatments that we offer and they suffer significant side effects from them,” said pediatric neurologist Richard Huntsman in a media release. “I believe we owe it to these children and their families to look at all potential treatment options, including cannabis-based products, if they can offer any hope of helping.”
The study is being paid for entirely with support from the Children’s Hospital Foundation of Saskatchewan, the Durwood Seafoot Estate, the Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation and the Savoy Foundation.
The team hopes to begin recruiting patients within the next two months.
“Parents are becoming more aware of the use of cannabis to treat epilepsy from social media and parent support groups,” added pediatric epileptologist Richard Tang-Wai. “Because there is little scientific evidence regarding the use of cannabis products in children, most physicians are reluctant to prescribe them, resulting in parents trying to make their own preparations at home or turning to suppliers who cannot verify the quality of their product. This adds to the urgency of doing studies like this.”