JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - UMMC News announced great news in regard to treatment for children with epilepsy.
According to the hospital, results from a clinical trial of a new marijuana-derived drug to treat seizures in children has prompted approval of a one-year extension to the study. Great news for those with children suffering from severe epilepsy.
The clinically tested investigational drug product is an oral cannabidiol, CBD for short, derived from marijuana grown at the University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy’s National Center for Natural Products Research. To conduct the trial, required approvals were obtained in 2018 from the Drug Enforcement Agency and the Food and Drug Administration.
The trial was approved for 10 patients and all of those patients in the initial trial have opted to participate in the extension.
Treatment with the drug, described as “compassionate care for the sickest of the sick” by principal investigator Dr. Brad Ingram was proven to be safe in the trial’s first six months.
Ingram, an associate professor of pediatric neurology and director of the UMMC Pediatric Comprehensive Epilepsy Program, says a few things about the trial will change as it is continued. The first phase was focused on tolerability; now the trial’s main focus will shift to how well the patients respond and if they are still seeing a positive response in a year.
Those in the trial “are patients whose lives have been devastated by their epilepsy, even up to their abilities to walk, talk, or participate in simple activities of self-care,” Ingram said.
Ingram says that results have shown promise.
“Even with patients whose seizure counts are unchanged, parents said their children are happier,” Ingram said. “We had a teenage patient say ‘mom’ to their mother for the first time ever. We had patients whose parents were able to take them to the grocery store for the first time.”
Officials with UMMC say the extension reflects on the initial trial’s results and shows promise of controlling seizures in patients who have been failed by conventional treatments. There is also hope that the trial extension will lead to the drug becoming available in the future.
In 2014, the Mississippi Legislature passed a law allowing the Medical Center to dispense CBD oil for the treatment of epileptic seizures in children. Sen. Josh Harkins sponsored the bill, known as Harper Grace’s law, and told UMMC News he’s pleased that the trial has been extended.