UK trial for cannabis epilepsy treatment

Lorraine Robertson, from Haddington, East Lothian, with her son Max Robertson, aged 12, who is taking part in the medical trial. pic: SWNS
Lorraine Robertson, from Haddington, East Lothian, with her son Max Robertson, aged 12, who is taking part in the medical trial. pic: SWNS
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A 12-YEAR-OLD boy from Haddington will become one of the first patients in the UK to undergo a radical new epilepsy treatment using cannabis extracts, top researchers have revealed.

The trial comes after a series of US-led studies found Cannabidiol (CBD) could reduce the frequency and severity of seizures in children with acute epilepsy.

Participants will receive the experimental medication, Epidiolex, which is chemically based on the non-psychoactive compound found within the cannabis plant.

Now the study is to be extended into the UK, and patients are being selected for a randomised and controlled trial of the treatment.

It will run at Edinburgh University’s Muir Maxwell Epilepsy Centre, the Royal 
Hospital for Sick Children in Glasgow, Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool and London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital.

Only children who experience seizures which cannot be controlled with existing forms of medication are being invited to take part.

Max Robertson, 12, who suffers from severe epilepsy will be one of the first patients in the UK to trail the cannabis-sourced medication.

His mother, Lorraine, 41, said: “Sometimes I just think he suffers but he can’t tell us as he can’t talk at all. He’s in his own little world now and we don’t get much interaction from him.

“Last year we heard on CNN about the little girl in Colorado who stopped having seizures after she was put on CBD, and as soon as we heard we mentioned it to the hospital.

“I got in contact with the company who produce the drug and they said that if we got the go-ahead from the hospital then we could go ahead.”

Epidiolex is being developed by GW Pharmaceuticals, a British Biotechnology company which is also sponsoring and funding the trial.

Ms Robertson said: “I don’t know if it will make a difference but we really want to try as I’ve lost count of how many medications he’s tried over the years.

“The early data from the US is giving us a lot of hope which we’ve not had for a long time.”

Dr Richard Chin, director of the Muir Maxwell Epilepsy Centre, said: “Many children with serious forms of epilepsy do not respond to the medications currently available.

“We need new means of treating these conditions so that we can give back some quality of life to these children and their families.”

Ann Maxwell, founder of the paediatric epilepsy charity the Muir Maxwell Trust, said: “I welcome the launch of these trials as it marks an important milestone in our long journey towards understanding the condition and improving the treatment of those suffering this severe form of epilepsy.

“As the mother of a teenager with this life-altering condition, I strongly support the exploration of ground-breaking medications that could seek out new ways to improve patients’ life quality.”

newsen@edinburghnews.com