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STUDY: Does cannibis provide neuroprotection in MS and slow progression? Whoa...

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  • STUDY: Does cannibis provide neuroprotection in MS and slow progression? Whoa...

    Neuroprotection in Experimental Autoimmune Encephalomyelitis and Progressive Multiple Sclerosis by Cannabis-Based Cannabinoids

    Gareth Pryce,
    Dieter R. Riddall,
    David L. Selwood,
    Gavin Giovannoni,
    David Baker


    Multiple sclerosis (MS) is the major immune-mediated, demyelinating, neurodegenerative disease of the central nervous system. Compounds within cannabis, notably Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9-THC) can limit the inappropriate neurotransmissions that cause MS-related problems and medicinal cannabis is now licenced for the treatment of MS symptoms. However, the biology indicates that the endocannabinoid system may offer the potential to control other aspects of disease. Although there is limited evidence that the cannabinoids from cannabis are having significant immunosuppressive activities that will influence relapsing autoimmunity, we and others can experimentally demonstrate that they may limit neurodegeneration that drives progressive disability. Here we show that synthetic cannabidiol can slow down the accumulation of disability from the inflammatory penumbra during relapsing experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) in ABH mice, possibly via blockade of voltage-gated sodium channels. In addition, whilst non-sedating doses of Δ9-THC do not inhibit relapsing autoimmunity, they dose-dependently inhibit the accumulation of disability during EAE. They also appear to slow down clinical progression during MS in humans. Although a 3 year, phase III clinical trial did not detect a beneficial effect of oral Δ9-THC in progressive MS, a planned subgroup analysis of people with less disability who progressed more rapidly, demonstrated a significant slowing of progression by oral Δ9-THC compared to placebo. Whilst this may support the experimental and biological evidence for a neuroprotective effect by the endocannabinoid system in MS, it remains to be established whether this will be formally demonstrated in further trials of Δ9-THC/cannabis in progressive MS.

    Dave Bexfield

  • #2
    My favorite neuro bloggers over at MS Research break down this even further. Definitely food for thought. Or, perhaps more appropriately, munchies for thought. Would anyone like to share their personal experience? Thoughts?

    The biology of the cannabinoid system indicates that it should exert a neuroprotective effect and this can be seen in many, many experimental models. We have been looking at symptom control and we could find evidence for THC within cannabis and the CB1 cannabinoid receptor mediated effects. We have also found that these two components can mediate a neuroprotective effect and they can do this by many different mechanisms.

    However, until now we have not found any use for cannabidiol, which is major non-phycoactive compound within some strains of cannabis. In this study we find that cannabidiol can protect nerves from inflammatory damage in experimental animal models of MS, possibly via blocking ion channel activity.

    Likewise, so could tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). However, the mixture (as in sativex) of cannabidiol and tetrahydrocnnabinol was not additive and appeared worse than the individual compounds.

    It has been argued that cannabidiol blocks the psychoactive effects of THC maybe it does and maybe it blocks the beneficial effects of can't have it both ways.

    But what happened in MS, The trial of THC (CUPID) in progressive MS as a neuroprotectant....
    Dave Bexfield