The oral administration of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) may treat both spasticity and pain associated with multiple sclerosis.
This is according to a study being published by the journal Clinical Therapeutics, and e-published ahead of print by the U.S. National Institute of Health.
According to the Mayo Clinic, multiple sclerosis (MS) is a “disease in which the immune system eats away at the protective covering of nerves.” The ailment affects around 200,000 people annually and has no cure. Multiple sclerosis causes many different symptoms, including vision loss, pain, fatigue, and impaired coordination.
The aim of the present study was to “evaluate the efficacy of an oral formulation of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (ECP002A) in patients with progressive multiple sclerosis (MS).”
Researchers used an accelerated proof-of-concept study that consisted of “2 phases: a crossover challenge (dose-finding) phase and a 4-week, parallel, randomized, placebo-controlled treatment phase.”
24 patients with progressive MS and moderate spasticity were enrolled. During the treatment phase, “biomarkers for efficacy and secondary pharmacodynamic effects were measured at baseline and after 2 and 4 weeks of treatment. Serum samples were collected to determine pharmacokinetic properties and perform population modeling. Safety and tolerability profiles were assessed based on adverse events and safety measurements.”
After conducting the experiments, it was found that “Pain was significantly reduced when measured directly after administration of ECP002A in the clinic but not when measured in a daily diary. A similar pattern was observed in subjective muscle spasticity.”
Cognitive testing indicated that there was “no decline in cognition after 2 or 4 weeks of treatment attributable to ECP002A compared with placebo.”
Researchers conclude by stating that the “oral formulation of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol may play a role in the treatment of spasticity and pain associated with MS because it was well tolerated and had a stable pharmacokinetic profile.”
Click here for the full study, which was conducted by researchers at VU University Medical Center and the Centre for Human Drug Research, both in the Netherlands.