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UBCO in partnership for Canada's first PTSD cannabis study

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November 13, 2014 - 11:59 AM

KELOWNA - The therapeutic benefits of medical marijuana will be tested at UBC Okanagan in a clinical trail in partnership with Tilray, a B.C. medicinal cannabis production and research company.

The clinical trial will be specific to the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder and will be the first of its kind conducted in Canada. Pending regulatory approvals, the UBC-Tilray study will also be one of the first in the world to run a large-scale trial examining medical cannabis as a treatment for a mental health disorder, according to a media release.

The study is a Phase II, randomized, placebo-controlled, triple blind crossover clinical trial to gather evidence about the safety and effectiveness of different medical strain combinations to manage chronic, treatement-resistant PTSD symptoms resulting from trauma experienced by veterans, first repsonders and sexual assault survivors. Chronic PTSD symptoms include flashbacks, anxiety, anger, irritability, depression and changes in appetite and sleep.

“Even with current treatments, many patients continue to struggle with the debilitating effects of PTSD,” Associate Professor Zach Walsh says. Walsh is the principal investigator for the study, a clinical psychologist, and co-director of the UBC Centre for the Advancement of Psychological Science and Law in the Irving K. Barber School of Arts and Sciences.

“There is promising preclinical and anecdotal evidence supporting the potential of medical cannabis to alleviate PTSD symptoms, particularly among veterans. We have an ethical responsibility to examine all possible treatment options to ease their suffering.”

Study participants will include 40 Canadian men and women who meet clinical criteria for PTSD (DSM-V) due to trauma experienced during military service, as a first responder, or as the result of sexual assault. The trial is expected to launch in early summer 2015, pending necessary regulatory approvals, and is scheduled to conclude in late 2016.

“Tilray’s medical cannabis is already helping Canadian veterans and former RCMP officers cope with PTSD symptoms such as insomnia and anxiety,” Tilray Vice President for Patient Research and Services, Philippe Lucas says. “This clinical trial will provide physicians worldwide with scientific data to make informed decisions about providing PTSD patients proper treatment.”

Tilray is the first and only Health Canada MMPR Licensed Producer to announce clinical trials studying the medical benefits of cannabis for a mental health disorder. Tilray will provide financial and coordination support for the study, in addition to donating several different medical cannabis strain combinations with varying levels of THC and CBD to be administered to patients participating the study through vaporizers – a non-smoke method of ingestion.

“The UBC-Tilray trial will enable us to learn more about the science of cannabis as therapy for PTSD,” says Dr. Joshua Eades, chief science officer at Tilray. “The use of strains with varying cannabinoid profiles will help us understand more about which cannabinoids are most effective at alleviating PTSD symptoms in veterans, first responders and trauma victims.”

Tilray opened a state-of-the-art research and production facility to grow, process, package and ship medical cannabis for Canadian patients in April 2014. Located in Nanaimo, British Columbia, the $20 million, 60,000-square-foot facility employs more than 100 Canadians including research scientists, botanists, and horticulturalists who are industry leaders in medical cannabis research and related agricultural sciences.

To contact the reporter for this story, email Adam Proskiw at aproskiw@infonews.ca or call 250-718-0428. To contact the editor, email mjones@infonews.ca or call 250-718-2724.

News from © iNFOnews, 2014

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