UMMC conducts clinical trials for marijuana based drug to treat children with epilepsy

VIDEO: Marijuana derived epilepsy drug trial

JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - Children suffering from seizures may get some much needed relief through a clinical trial underway at UMMC.

The first clinical trial of its kind is underway involving a new drug derived from marijuana, tested on epilepsy patients. It follows years of state legislative bills, FDA and DEA studies and approval.

UMMC is hoping to make history with the first national study of oral cannabidiol or CBD.

It's made from marijuana grown at the University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy's National Center for Natural Products Research.

Oral cannabidiol or CBD to be studied at UMMC for treatment of children with epilepsy. Source: WLBT
Oral cannabidiol or CBD to be studied at UMMC for treatment of children with epilepsy. Source: WLBT

Ten children suffering from extreme forms of epilepsy will participate in the six month trial. Epilepsy Specialist Dr. Brad Ingram said UMMC’s Division treats 10,000 children with the disease.

According to experts, thirty percent do not respond to drugs currently on the market.

"Very commonly these children have a very very sick brain, and they epilepsy is not just causing them to seize but is also interfering with their ability to learn to walk or to read or to have good sleep," said Ingram.

Rankin County State Senator Josh Harkin (R) authored the bill that passed the state legislature in 2014, allowing UMMC to dispense CBD oil for treatment.

"I've had families from across the state when this first came out a couple of years ago call and really want to know how to get involved in this," said Harkin. "They wanted the opportunity to try the medicine on their children".

Physicians say some patients suffer up to 100 seizures per day. The trial will involve five to 19 year olds.

The medication will be administered orally through a dosing syringe or through a tube inserted into their stomach.

According to doctors and researchers, the CBD oil does not have psycho active affects meaning the patient will not get high and is not addictive.

Dr. Larry Walker is Director Emeritus with the UM School of Pharmacy’s National Center for Natural Products research. He said the clinical trial will be a pharmaceutically trackable study to determine if the product should be available for medical use.

"This will be the first in the nation where a state program, a state university medical center has been able to use one of these botanical extracts of cannibas for a controlled study of refractory epilepsy in children," Walker.

"Anytime I can come up with a new weapon to fight this disease, anytime I can make my kids quality of life better, I'm all for it," added Dr. Ingram.

At Batson Specialty Clinic in Jackson where Dr. Ingram treats children with severe epilepsy, more than 2,000 are resistant to medication.

Researchers and physicians want the trials to determine if seizures that are not regulated by conventional medication can be controlled by CBD.

Copyright 2018 WLBT. All rights reserved.