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New Oxford Study Will Test if Epidiolex Can Treat Psychosis

By Leo Bear-McGuinness

Published: Feb 16, 2023   
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Image credit: iStock

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Oxford University has announced it will oversee a global clinical trial that will investigate whether CBD can treat people with psychosis.

The study will involve 1,000 participants with a history of psychosis, and take place across 35 centers (mainly) in Europe and North America.

CBD and psychosis

To test how CBD affects psychosis, participants in the study will be assessed before and after treatment using clinical, digital, cognitive, neuroimaging, and blood measures.

Half of the participants will be given a placebo; the other half will receive CBD. Both groups will also receive standard medical treatments for psychosis.

“Cannabidiol [CBD] is one of the most promising new treatments for people with psychosis,” Philip McGuire, a professor of psychiatry at Oxford and head of the study, said in a statement published on February 16.

“This study will be the first to evaluate cannabidiol in large numbers of people with psychosis or psychotic symptoms, and brings together many of the leading centres working in this area around the world.”

Several studies have suggested that CBD has an antipsychotic effect in people with existing forms of psychosis. One study published in Psychological Medicine in 2020 claimed to be the first to demonstrate that a single dose of CBD can boost activity in two parts of the brain, the prefrontal and mediotemporal cortices, in people with established psychosis.

“Many people with psychosis are open to trying cannabidiol and previous smaller scale studies have indicated that it has beneficial effects. As well as treating psychosis that is already established, the study will also investigate whether cannabidiol can prevent the onset of psychosis in people at high risk of developing it.”

The CBD used in the study will take the form of Epidiolex, a medication manufactured by Jazz Pharmaceuticals, which is providing Epidiolex for the trials at no cost.

Funding for the trial came from the Wellcome Trust, which awarded Oxford’s Department of Psychiatry £16.5 million as part of its support for mental health research.

“This study could provide us with a new kind of treatment for psychosis and we are hugely grateful to Wellcome and Jazz Pharmaceuticals for helping to make it happen,” McGuire added.

The study is due to start later this year.


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