First human trial will test cannabis as a treatment for side-effects from chemo

Among the most painful is taxane-induced peripheral neuropathy, a condition that affects more than 67 per cent of women undergoing breast cancer treatment

By Barbara Shaw

2019-10-28

Breast cancer patients expect side effects from the life-saving treatments they receive to combat their disease.

Among the most painful is taxane-induced peripheral neuropathy, or TIPN, a medical condition caused by chemotherapy.

TIPN can create a burning, tingling sensation and a hypersensitivity to touch and temperature. Patients who undergo chemo also experience numbness in their hands and feet. TIPN affects more than 67 per cent of women undergoing breast cancer treatment.

In extreme cases, patients choose to shorten their chemotherapy treatments. Although symptoms start during chemotherapy, they can persist for years. TIPN is currently managed with a combination of physical therapy and medications.

But studies assessing the use of medical cannabis to treat TIPN in mice have shown promise. And now researchers in the U.S. are embarking on the first human trial to test the effectiveness of medical cannabis to treat TIPN.

The trial will be led by Diana Martinez, a professor of psychiatry, and Margaret Haney, a professor of neurobiology at Columbia University Irving Medical Center.

Half of the participants will receive a combination of THC and CBD. The other half will receive a product with no active cannabinoids. Participants will be treated twice daily for eight weeks. Researchers are currently recruiting patients for the study.

And while Haney won’t disclose the strains that will be used, she says the combination of THC and CBD will be taken orally in a capsule.

Canadian Licensed Producer Tilray, which has supported medical trials for pediatric epilepsy, essential tremor, post-traumatic stress disorder and alcohol abuse, will supply product for the study.

 

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