EU has approved medicinal cannabis for the first time as a potential treatment for the patients suffering from two rare and severe forms of childhood epilepsy. Doctors have been recommended the Epidiolex, plant-derived cannabis-based oral suspension as a long term treatment option for the children with Dravet syndrome or Lennox-Gastaut syndrome. But not all the parents are satisfied with it and want an alternative consisting of a component not included in this drug.
CBD or cannabidiol is a chemical component of Cannabis sativa plant, commonly known as marijuana. CBD doesn’t cause euphoria or high in the consumers. Basically, it is the THC that is the main psychoactive component of Cannabis.
Epidiolex is 100% free of this psychoactive component, tetrahydrocannabinol or THC. Due to this, parents don’t find this drug as useful as with THC and come up with the observation that this treatment is not effective for the children because it doesn’t contain THC which is actually helpful in reducing the frequency of seizures in epilepsy.
The medication introduced by GW Pharmaceutical as a treatment for epilepsy would be used in combination with clobazam which is another epilepsy medication.
Is this medicinal cannabis approved worldwide or not?
The US Food and Drug Administration FDA approved the Epidiolex last year for the first time as the treatment for Dravet syndrome. It is a rare genetic disease with frequent fever-related seizures.
In a statement, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said, “This approval serves as a reminder that advancing sound development programs that properly evaluate active ingredients contained in marijuana can lead to important medical therapies. And, the FDA is committed to this kind of careful scientific research and drug development.”
On the other hand, CHMP- the European Medicines Agency’s (EMA’s) Committee for Medicinal Products for Humans Use also has a positive opinion about the recommendation of this product.
The CHMP’s positive opinion depends on the results from 4 trials including 714 members suffering from either Dravet Syndrome or Lennox- Gastaut syndrome. The results demonstrated that the frequency of seizures can be effectively reduced with cannabidiol products instead of placebo.
The oral solution is also approved in the UK for use; however, NHS doesn’t recommend its use currently. A month ago, due to the absence of evidence of its long haul viability, the UK’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence settled on an initiative decision about not recommending the prescription of Epidiolex.
Legal Medicinal Cannabis Products Containing THC
Many other cannabis products containing THC are legalized in the UK in 2018. But these medicines can only be prescribed by the specialist doctors only in the case if other medicines have failed to do the job.
Nabilone is a cannabis-based medicine, legal in the UK. It is available in the form of capsules and works in a similar way to tetrahydrocannabinol or THC. This drug may help people with nausea in the case of chemotherapy.
Sativex is also a drug derived from cannabis plant consisting of both THC and CBD. This drug is also legal in the UK to help people with multiple sclerosis.
Epidiolex is not a Magical Bullet
Extensive trials and clinical studies are carried out to prove the efficacy of this cannabis-derived drug. A Professor of Neurology at UCL and Medical Director at Epilepsy Society, Ley Sander said:
“This is good news for children with some of the most serious forms of epilepsy. Epidyolex has been clinically trialed to prove its efficacy and safety so, where appropriate, physicians will be able to prescribe it in the knowledge that there is evidence to support its use.”
“Epidyolex has been through extensive clinical trials and although not a magic bullet, we know that it may work for some children whose seizures do not respond to current treatment options. But like all anti-seizure drugs, it would seem that Epidyolex may work for some children but not for others.”
In short, this positive step made by the EU for the approval of Epidiolex as a treatment for epilepsy will bring hope among the people suffering from deadly disease. However, restorative cannabis, in any case, will remain a question mark and there are many obstacles ahead to approve its marketing authorization.
Possibility of Brain Disorders in COVID-19 Patients
Recent researches revealed that people with mild COVID-19 symptoms have a chance of developing fatal brain disorders.
COVID-19 is an infection that differently attacks every individual. Some people develop acute respiratory problems while others only develop mild symptoms like fever, cough etc. Mostly, doctors tend to ignore the patients with mild symptoms as they get normal on their own. However, the recent reports revealed some shocking and disturbing detail about the virus.
Brain Disorders in COVID-19 Patients
Coronavirus can trigger brain disorders in patients. Scientists have warned that doctors may be overlooking signs of brain disorders in patients with mild coronavirus symptoms. Neurologists in U.K. found over 40 coronavirus patients with severe brain inflammation, nerve damage, delirium and even a stroke. This is a serious condition called acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (Adem). Cases of Adem have risen from one case a month to 2-3 weekly cases in the months of April and May.
Doctors are particularly worried because no virus has previously affected the brain as COVID-19 is. A 55-year-old COVID-19 patient without any history of mental illness, started behaving oddly the day after getting discharged from the medical center. She was having recurrent hallucinations. Another 47 year-old woman was admitted with a headache. However, later, she became unresponsive. The doctors conducted an emergency surgery to cut out a portion of her skull to release pressure on her inflammed brain.
The way COVID-19 affects the brain hasn’t been observed before with any other virus. This could very well be due to the fact that the virus has numerous mutations. However, that is just speculation for now.
So, what needs to be done?
Well, clinicians need to be on their toes about these complications of the coronavirus. Patients with memory issues, fatigue, weakness, numbness, or cognitive symptoms need special attention. Healthcare workers, GPs, and physicians should also consult neurologists in regard to these cases.
Note that these are all precautions. It does not neglect the fact that complete recovery isn’t possible. In most cases, the coronavirus does not involve the brain.
Because of the intensity of the symptoms of the virus most of the patients in hospitals cannot be examined through brain scanners or other procedures. Therefore, the full spectrum of brain disorders caused by the corona virus cannot be determined just yet. Efficient research needs to be done to determine the complete depth of the complications.
One major concern!
One major concern with this new discovery is the possibility of the virus to leave the affected people with brain disorders that could only become apparent later in life. The number of such cases might not be as staggering, but that is still a major concern.
This has happened before in flu outbreak in 1918. After the pandemic, almost a million patients came up with brain disorders.
It is far too early to give a verdict, but it could still haunt the people like a ghost. Like most subtle brain disorders, the effects might not become apparent at once. However, in the years to come it could affect the lifestyles of a lot of people.
One should hope that it doesn’t come to that. But, with a pandemic affecting people by thousands everyday, being alert is the wisest thing to do.
Pennsylvania: Lt. Gov. Fetterman Urges Cannabis Legalization
Lt. Gov. John Fetterman urges Cannabis Legalization to reduce the impact of the budget deficit. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the economy has suffered a lot. Due to the economic setback, the state faces a budget shortfall of $3.2 billion.
Fetterman tweeted to support the legalization of recreational marijuana. He says that legalization of marijuana will open new avenues to generate tax revenue. According to Fetterman, the legalization of marijuana could generate half of this COVID-19 deficit. It will also be helpful in reforming the state prison system.
Recently, Lt. Gov. Fetterman took to Twitter in support of cannabis legalization.
If only there was a widely-consumed unregulated cash crop, wholly confined to the black market, that could generate billions of dollars + 1000’s of jobs + help PA farmers. https://t.co/oIfEeUb8sm
— John Fetterman (@JohnFetterman) July 2, 2020
Catering For Budget Deficit
In an economy greatly hit by the global pandemic, the legalization of recreational cannabis will help providing thousands of jobs to the unemployed.
Majority people of Pennsylvania support the legalization. Fetterman is of the viewpoint that cannabis in Pennsylvania could bring up to 500 million dollars into the state’s coffers which is why he urges Cannabis Legalization.
I don’t know who needs to hear this jk I know who- but earnestly reforming our state prison system + legalization of marijuana could generate half of this COVID-19 deficit.
It would, however, could have other unintended consequences like justice and personal freedom.
— John Fetterman (@JohnFetterman) July 2, 2020
Pennsylvania has a big marijuana market. Its legalization will allow Pennsylvania to stand on its own feet.
Some other politicians, however, disagree with the notion of legalization. They think that instead of adding new taxes, they should try to control the spending. The bill to legalize the adult use of Marijuana is in the committee. However, nothing can be said about the legalization with certainty.
However, According to State Sen. Stefano, his committee is reviewing new research. He told KDKA’s Meghan Schiller that the biggest hurdle is that there is no measurement technique for determining THC concentration in the human body. He said he’s hesitant to move forward, until there’s a way to determine the amount of intoxication.
The State Senator said that the bill was in his committee and he didn’t have plans to bring it up anytime soon. There is still room for a lot of research to be done. The decision to legalize adult-use marijuana isn’t a very wise decision without taking all the factors into account.
However, it’s research business owner Posteraro sees this as an opportunity. He hopes that it doesn’t take too much time to legalize it, because opportunities like these seldom present themselves.
Whether or not Cannabis should be legalized still remains open to debate, but there is no denying could help the nation face a huge financial deficit.
Cannabis Rendered Helpful in Saving Lives of COVID-19 Patients
Recent Researches revealed how Cannabis plant can help in saving lives of COVID-19 patients. The active components found in Cannabis Plant make it seem as a possible treatment for coronavirus infections.
Anti-Inflammatory Properties of Cannabis
The University of Nebraska and the Texas Biomedical Research Institute are conducting further researches to study the utility of CBD to check its utility in treating inflammation of lungs caused by coronavirus. The anti-inflammatory properties of Cannabis can be especially valuable in improving issues related to behaviour, immunity and brain.
Researchers explained that the infection is related to a cytokine superstorm, that causes symptoms like cough, fever and muscle pain. The increased inflammation can even cause pneumonia and breathing difficulties. Breathing difficulties are the number one cause of deaths due to COVID-19.
Reduction in the Amount of Cytokines
Previously, researches conducted on CBD show that it can bring down the level of several cytokines, that cause inflammation, including IL-6. It also helps in controlling interleukin (IL)-2, interferon gamma, IL-1α and β, inducible protein-10, macrophage inflammatory protein-1α, monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 and tumor necrosis factor-α. Excess of these leads to severe COVID-19 conditions. Moreover, CBD also increases the interferons production. Interferon is a protein that prevents viruse replication and activates immune cells.
CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties have worked wonders for asthma patients by reducing the production of pro-inflammatory cytokine production. CBD also reduces pulmonary fibrosis. This condition causes scarring, thickening and damage to the lung tissue, along with making breathing considerably more painful. COVID-19 actually leaves patients with pulmonary fibrosis. This is the major reason why Cannabis can greatly help COVID-19 patients.
An insight into how COVID-19 works
Much like other respiratory pathogens, COVID-19 is also spread through respiratory droplets. However, it also has potential for contact and aerosol spread.
Coronavirus makes it way into the human body through receptor-mediation. This is done through angiotensin-converting enzyme II (ACE2). ACE2 is present in lung tissue, oral and nasal mucosa, gastrointestinal tract, kidneys, and testes.
This information opens door to a new way of hindering the spread of coronavirus. Modulation of ACE2 could prove fruitful in this regard.
A special strain of cannabis can render this function. Through ACE2 modulation it could block the virus’ entry into the human body. Nipping the evil in the bud.
Basically, ACE2 acts like doorways to the virus. The main idea is to temporarily alter the extent of ACE2 gene expression. Therefore, it could very well make the human body a no entry zone for the virus. The same strain could also be used to stop the virus’ propagation if it has made its way into a person’s body.
This is where Cannabis sativa comes into play. Plants with high CBD content have been proposed as a way to modulate the ACE2 gene expression in target tissues.
At this point in time, it is more of a theory than a confirmed fact. However, it sure opens a new avenue with promising prospects. If it proves successful, the next step would be to start manufacture that particular strain into a medication.
It sure looks like CBD properties of cannabis can prove fruitful in the treatment and prevention of coronavirus. However, further research will prove whether it is the case or not.
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