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Multiple Sclerosis Background

Multiple sclerosis (MS) affects an estimated 400,000 patients in the United States and 2.5 million worldwide.  MS is the most common disease of the central nervous system in young adults with diagnosis generally occurring between the ages of 20 and 40.  In 2007, a study estimated the total annual economic cost of MS in the United States alone was $12.5 billion.  MS is a debilitating disease with multiple symptoms.  Many of the symptoms are difficult to treat with traditional medical care.

CBTs and MS:

A number of studies have indicated that cannabinoids have efficacy in treating MS. “We conclude that this CBM [cannabis-based medicine] may represent a useful new agent for treatment of the symptomatic relief of spasticity in MS.”  Christine Collin, MD, Senior Consultant in Neuro-rehabilitation at the Royal Berkshire and Battle Hospitals, et al.,Randomized Controlled Trial of Cannabis-Based Medicine in Spasticity Caused by Multiple Sclerosis,” published in the Mar. 2007 European Journal of Neurology.

“Many MS patients report that cannabis has a startling and profound effect on muscle spasms, tremors, balance, bladder control, speech and eyesight. Many wheel-chair-bound patients report that they can walk unaided when they have smoked cannabis….Numerous case studies, surveys and double-blind studies have reported improvement in patients treated with cannabinoids for symptoms including spasticity…Cannabinoids have been shown in animal models to measurably lessen MS symptoms and may also halt the progression of the disease.”

Americans For Safe Access (ASA)Medical Cannabis and Multiple Sclerosis,[d1]

Many of the symptoms of MS have been shown to be relieved by utilizing CBTs(cannabinoid based therapeutics) including spasticity, pain, immune function and bladder incontinence.  Therefore, it is not surprising that reports show nearly one in two MS patients report using cannabis or CBTs therapeutically.[15]

One of the most common symptoms of MS is spasticity with an estimated 84% of patients reporting symptoms.  Spasticity can be debilitating and is difficult to treat. However, cannabis has been shown to reduce spasticity in multiple studies. For example, Christine Collin, MD, Senior Consultant in Neuro-rehabilitation at the Royal Berkshire and Battle Hospitals reported in The European Journal of Neurology “We conclude that this CBM [cannabis-based medicine] may represent a useful new agent for treatment of the symptomatic relief of spasticity in MS.”  The investigators reported “smoked cannabis was superior to placebo in reducing spasticity and pain in patients with multiple sclerosis and provided some benefit beyond currently prescribed treatment.”[13].

CBTs have been shown to relieve additional symptoms of MS beyond spasticity in clinical trials (including pain).  In 2006, researchers followed 167 MS patients for 43 days and reported that use of whole plant cannabinoid extracts relieved symptoms of pain, spasticity and bladder incontinence.  (19)  Furthermore, oral cannabis was found to modify immune function in MS patients with researchers reporting  “These results suggest pro-inflammatory disease-modifying potential of cannabinoids [for] MS”.[18]

Research suggests cannabinoids might aid in halting MS progression along with providing symptom control.  In 2003, utilizing a mouse model and a synthetic cannabinoid researchers reported the cannabinoid provided significant neuroprotection. Researchers in the study concluded “cannabis may also slow the neurodegenerative processes that ultimately lead to chronic disability in multiple sclerosis and probably other disease.” (16) This research was repeated in 2012 utilizing a different cannabinoid yet finding similar results.  Researchers from that study concluded “the treatment of EAE mice with the cannabinoid agonist WIN55,512-2 reduced their neurological disability and the progression of the disease.”[17]  This data suggest CBTs could be utilized to protect against disease progression in MS.

In recent years, many countries including Canada, Denmark, Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom have approved the prescription use of plant cannabis extracts to treat symptoms of multiple sclerosis. In the United States some states approve cannabis use with no standardization of cannabis products or CBTs.  In the United States many MS patients self-medicate with cannabis with very limited controls on the quality of the CBT.  This carries risk including patients receiving cannabis which may contain the wrong cannabinoids and hence not being effective in mitigating their symptoms. Patients using non-standardized CBTs also make it difficult to enable broad clinical research.

In the last decade, the results of improved symptom management of MS using CBTs has been promising; but by understanding the genome and environmental factors that affect the plant further, researchers can begin to expand their understanding of the potential therapeutic compounds found in cannabis.  By understanding the source of the cannabinoid variation and mechanism of action, Verda Bio can begin to tailor CBTs to better meet the needs of patients.  Verda Bio is creating CBTs that will provide consistent cannabinoid therapies to MS patients.

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