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This New Study Will Test If Cannabis Can Ease Symptoms For Children in Palliative Care

By Leo Bear-McGuinness

Published: Oct 13, 2022   
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Researchers at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, Australia, will soon begin the first known study to test if medical cannabis can alleviate the symptoms in children and teenagers undergoing palliative care.

The study will involve 10 participants, aged between six months and 21 years, who all have severe symptoms from non-cancerous conditions, such as cerebral palsy, neurodegenerative disorders, and progressive cardiac disease.

“These symptoms are difficult to control with currently prescribed medications, most of which cause significant side-effects,” Daryl Efron, an assistant professor at Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, said in a statement.

“Medicinal cannabis is a new therapy with great hope, but there is little evidence from clinical trials, particularly in children.In our experience, parents are interested in obtaining medicinal cannabis for their child’s symptoms, but physicians are reluctant to prescribe it because of the lack of quality research,” he added.

“There is an urgent need for clinical trials to properly evaluate the role of medicinal cannabis for use in these highly vulnerable patients.”

Efron’s trial will evaluate how the children tolerate the cannabis products and if the medications provide any relief from their symptoms, which can include pain, irritability, gastrointestinal issues, seizures, spasticity, and dystonia (spasms). Recruitment for the trial will start later this year.

“If medicinal cannabis is shown to be effective, it will represent an important treatment breakthrough for this patient group,” Efron said.

The trial has received $75,000 (AUD) from the Victorian government via a research acceleration fund. Additional support has been provided by Victoria-based medicinal cannabis company Cannatrek.


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