Medicinal cannabis trial offers new hope in epilepsy battle

The Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital is participating in a ground breaking international trial using medicinal cannabis to treat the debilitating effects of epilepsy which affects almost 100,000 Queenslanders.

Director of Epilepsy Services at RBWH Professor David Reutens said the world-first trial involved the use of a new anti-seizure medication applied to the skin in gel form.

“We know many people with epilepsy are unable to do things we take for granted such as driving or working. This trial offers them hope to live without fear of having a seizure,” Professor Reutens said.

“The trial involves testing a cannabis-based gel containing cannabidiol, a non-psychoactive component of the cannabis plant.

“The gel is rubbed on the skin twice a day and when absorbed is predicted to act like a circuit breaker in the brain, preventing the epileptic circuit from firing abnormally – potentially preventing seizures.

“If successful, this new gel will provide people with more options besides the traditional treatments like oral medications or surgery.”

RBWH has already accepted patients into the six-month trial, which is sponsored by Zynerba Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

Epilepsy Queensland CEO Helen Whitehead said the trial could give epilepsy sufferers a chance to live seizure-free.

“The RBWH team is internationally-renowned in clinical care and treatment of epilepsy and I am very excited to see the hospital be a part of the world-first cannabidiol gel trial,” Ms Whitehead said.

“This is an example of how the RBWH is thinking outside the box when it comes to finding new ways to treat complex chronic diseases.”

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