Medicinal cannabis to be trialled for Tourette’s tics

Movement disorders

28 Mar 2019

Dr Philip Mosley

A pioneering clinical trial investigating medicinal cannabis as a potential treatment for the symptoms of Tourette syndrome will be conducted by Wesley Medical Research in Brisbane.

The trial aims to examine the safety and efficacy of pharmaceutical-grade cannabinoids on tic frequency as well as the psychiatric and cognitive symptoms associated with Tourette syndrome, and is the first of its kind in Australia according to Chief Investigator and neuropsychiatrist Dr Philip Mosley.

“Given the public interest in therapeutic use of cannabis, it’s important to conduct rigorous and methodologically-sound research,” Dr Mosley said.

The double blind trial will involve 24 participants with Tourette’s syndrome and a tic severity score greater than 20 on the Yale Global Tic Severity Scale. They will undergo two six-week periods of treatment with either a medicinal cannabis drug or a placebo.

The active drug will be an oral solution containing 5mg/ml tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and 5mg/ml cannabidiol (CBD), with dose titration based on standardised evaluation of tic severity.

Criteria for dose escalation will be a decrease of less than 2 points, no change or increased tic severity score on the Yale Global Tic Severity Scale.

The pharmaceutical grade cannabis extract to be used in the trial will be supplied by Bod Australia Limited in collaboration with the Lambert Initiative for Cannabinoid Therapeutics at the University of Sydney.

“There is already early evidence to support the successful treatment of Tourette syndrome with cannabinoids,” said Professor Iain McGregor, Academic Director of the Lambert Initiative.

“This clinical trial could have a major impact and greatly improve the lives of those living with Tourette syndrome.”

The Lambert Initiative was established in 2015 following a $33.7m donation from Barry and Joy Lambert to the University of Sydney to conduct research into safe and effective use of cannabinoid therapeutics in medicine. Lambert Initiative is based at the Brain and Mind Centre at the University of Sydney.

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