Approval of marijuana treatment for epilepsy could be boost for autism research

GW Pharma Epidiolex x
Epidiolex. Image credit: Alan Brochstein

The United States has approved, for the first time, a compound derived from marijuana to treat certain types of epilepsy. The ruling may spell good news for autism research.

The approval of Epidiolex, the new drug, will require a change in the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency’s classification of marijuana compounds as Schedule 1 drugs — meaning they have no medical use and strong potential for abuse — to something more benign.

Epidiolex has been approved to alleviate seizures in two epilepsy syndromes: Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has previously approved synthetic forms of marijuana’s psychoactive ingredient, THC, to treat certain conditions. But this is the first federal approval of a product derived from the marijuana plant.

Related article:  New blood test for autism criticized as ‘not appropriate’ for clinical use

In the meantime, many parents have turned to dispensaries for marijuana to treat their autistic children, despite the lack of evidence.

[One] trial is looking at CBD’s effect on anxiety in autistic children with high intelligence quotients.

As these trials gear up, they raise big questions about what aspects of autism marijuana-derived compounds treat, and what dosage might be best.

For example, results from a preliminary Israeli study suggest that a 20-to-1 ratio of CBD to THC alleviates aggressive outbursts in autistic children.

Read full, original post: Drug approval could boost research on marijuana treatment for autism

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