This project is the first clinical trial to go through the Virtual Biotech and the 6th project overall.
A biotech is a company that uses the latest technology and expertise to take the best scientific discoveries and turn them into new medical treatments.
Our Virtual Biotech operates in the same way but instead of doing it for profit, like a standard biotech, we’re doing it for people affected by Parkinson’s. We don’t own our own labs, hi-tech specialist equipment or employ a team of scientists because this would be enormously expensive. Instead, we’re taking an efficient approach. Partnering with institutions and pharmaceutical companies worldwide that already have the expertise, tools and infrastructure. In a chronically underfunded area, this means more money can be put into promising treatments.
The Parkinson’s Virtual Biotech is our best chance of turning promising discoveries into real treatments for people with Parkinson’s.
CBD is a compound found in the cannabis plant. Unlike another component, THC, CBD is non-addictive and doesn’t cause intoxication. You may have already heard of it because of its potential as a treatment for epilepsy and multiple sclerosis.
In a world first clinical trial, researchers will test whether cannabidiol (CBD) can treat Parkinson’s psychosis symptoms with the help of the Virtual Biotech.
Hallucinations and delusions are common symptoms of Parkinson’s. Around 60% of people experience these distressing symptoms. Current treatments can make other Parkinson’s symptoms worse, as they block dopamine receptors in the brain. This makes this research even more exciting as the existing information we have on CBD suggests it has no side effects.
We’ve now analysed their answers and produced a short report sharing our key findings.
When it comes to evidence of the benefits of cannabis-based products for people with Parkinson’s, the jury is definitely out.
People who currently use cannabis-derived products, and those who had previously used them, buy them from high street shops.
What products are people using?
Cannabis is a class-B controlled drug in the UK. Possessing, producing and supplying it are all against the law. ‘Supply’ includes sharing the drug with someone or giving it (even for free) to friends or relatives.
Cannabis-based products are not available on prescription for people living with Parkinson’s. And using cannabis to help with your Parkinson’s symptoms is not a valid defence in the eyes of the law.
Here’s what they said.
There’s a lot more research needed, both in the lab and in clinical trials.
Marijuana contains more than 100 neuroactive chemicals that work with two types of cannabinoid receptors, type 1 (CB1) located in the brain and type 2 (CB2) located in the brain and peripheral immune system. Cannabinoids have powerful, indirect effects on these receptors, but researchers are unsure how. People with PD have less CB1 receptors than people who do not have PD. A boost to the CB1 receptor through an agonist, like marijuana, can improve tremors and may alleviate dyskinesia. Similarly, the other receptor, CB2, is also being studied to determine if it can modify the disease or provide neuroprotective benefits. However, a unified hypothesis does not currently exist for either receptor because there is too much conflicting data on the effectiveness of cannabinoids and these receptors.
Below are several PD-related medical marijuana studies that have been conducted to evaluate the use of cannabinoids:
The Pharmacology of Cannabis
In some states where medical marijuana is legalized, consumers must register to possess and use cannabis. Other states require consumers to acquire a document from a physician stating that the patient has an approved condition. Under federal law doctors cannot prescribe cannabis, but many states authorize them to issue certifications that allow patients to obtain medical marijuana.
The Parkinson’s Foundation Consensus Statement on the Use of Medical Cannabis for Parkinson’s Disease is designed to help guide the PD community in making informed decisions about using cannabis for Parkinson’s. The statement is based on the input from 46 experts who attended the Foundation’s first-ever medical marijuana convening. Read it now.
Cannabinoids (the drug molecules in marijuana) have also been studied for use in treating other symptoms, like bradykinesia (slowness caused by PD) and dyskinesia (excess movement caused by levodopa). Despite some promising preclinical findings, researchers have not found any meaningful or conclusive benefits of cannabis for people with PD.