Short-Term Effects of Cannabis Therapy on Spasticity in MS

May 18, 2011

Mul­ti­ple Scle­ro­sis (MS) is the most com­mon debil­i­tat­ing neu­ro­logic dis­ease of young peo­ple, affect­ing at least 250,000 per­sons in the US, often between the ages of 20 and 40. Symp­tom man­i­fes­ta­tion varies con­sid­er­ably from per­son to per­son; how­ever, one fre­quently noted con­comi­tant is spas­tic­ity, which causes pain, spasms, loss of func­tion and dif­fi­cul­ties in nurs­ing care. The present appli­ca­tion is designed to explore the short-term effec­tive­ness and safety of med­i­c­i­nal cannabis on spas­tic­ity in patients with MS. There has been sig­nif­i­cant pub­lic dis­cus­sion on the poten­tial ther­a­peu­tic uses of cannabis for var­i­ous neu­ro­logic con­di­tions, includ­ing MS; how­ever, evi­dence that cannabis relieves spas­tic­ity pro­duced by MS is largely anec­do­tal. Large-scale tri­als or con­trolled stud­ies to com­pare cannabis or THC with cur­rently avail­able ther­a­pies for spas­tic­ity have not been per­formed. There is no pub­lished evi­dence that cannabi­noids are supe­rior or equiv­a­lent to avail­able anti-spasticity ther­a­pies and poten­tial side effects of cannabis need to be clar­i­fied. This pro­posed two-year project aims to exam­ine spas­tic­ity and global func­tion­ing in 30 MS patients before and after treat­ment with smoked cannabis in a placebo-controlled, ran­dom­ized, cross-over design. It is expected that MS sub­jects will demon­strate improve­ment in spas­tic­ity but impair­ment on cog­ni­tive mea­sures of atten­tion, con­cen­tra­tion, and mem­ory assessed before and after med­i­c­i­nal cannabis treat­ment. Patients will be mea­sured at base­line and for three days after each treat­ment ini­ti­a­tion using sen­si­tive mea­sures of spas­tic­ity, cog­ni­tion, neu­ropsy­chi­atric fea­tures, treatment-emergent effects, and global mea­sures of func­tion­ing. Thus, the application’s pri­mary goal is to obtain objec­tive assays of short-term effi­cacy and safety in MS patients treated for spas­tic­ity with med­i­c­i­nal cannabis.


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