Does a cannabis compound slow down MS..?

…we shall soon find out ;o)

Medical News Today, 22.07.2008

The CUPID (Cannabinoid Use in Progressive Inflammatory brain Disease) study at the Peninsula Medical School in Plymouth has reached an important milestone with the news that the full cohort of 493 people with multiple sclerosis (MS) has been recruited to the study.
CUPID is a clinical trial which will evaluate whether tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), one of many compounds found in the in the cannabis plant (and the main active ingredient) is able to slow the progression of MS.
This is an important study for people with MS because current treatments either target the immune system in the early stages of MS, or are aimed at easing specific symptoms such as muscle spasms or bladder problems. At present there is no treatment which slows progression of the disease.
The CUPID trial follows an earlier study – Cannabinoids and Multiple Sclerosis (CAMS) – which suggested a link between THC and the slowing of MS. The CAMS trial saw participants take THC for a year – the CUPID trial will last for longer and aims to assess the effect of THC on progressive MS.
It has taken two years to recruit the 493 participants who will each take part in the trial for three years, and in some cases three and a half years. After data cleaning and analysis the results should be available by spring/early summer 2012.
Professor John Zajicek from the Peninsula Medical School, who heads the team carrying out the CUPID study, said: “We are delighted to have achieved the correct number of patient participants for this trial. Patients have been recruited from 27 sites across the UK. If we are able to prove beyond reasonable doubt the link between THC and the slowing down of progressive MS, we will be able to develop an effective therapy for the many thousands of MS sufferers around the world.”
This study should provide the definitive answer as to whether cannabinoids will prove to halt progression in MS.

The Right Treatment For MS Depends On Disease Subtype!

Medical News Today

July 2nd ’08

Animal studies by University of Michigan scientists suggest that people who experience the same clinical signs of multiple sclerosis (MS) may have different forms of the disease that require different kinds of treatment. The results, if borne out in further studies, point to a time when doctors will be able to target specific inflammatory processes in the body and more effectively help MS patients, using available drugs and new ones in the pipeline.

Since the 1990s, the treatment picture has brightened for people with multiple sclerosis in its most common form, relapsing-remitting MS. Beta interferon drugs and glatiramer acetate (marketed as Copaxone) have proved effective at decreasing the attack rate and suppressing inflammatory plaque development in many patients with MS. Yet why the drugs help some patients, but not others, has remained a mystery.

The U-M research team conducted the studies in mice that have a disease similar to MS: experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis or EAE. The team found that different inflammatory chemicals, whose activity is linked to two different types of immune system T cells, could bring on the same paralysis and other MS-like signs. They also showed that drugs that block one of the inflammation pathways were not effective at blocking the other. The results, published online ahead of print, appeared in the July 7 issue of the Journal of Experimental Medicine.

“These two forms of disease differ in the specific anti-inflammatory agents that they are responsive to,” says Benjamin Segal, M.D., the study’s senior author and the director of the Multiple Sclerosis Center at the U-M Health System. “We already know that some people respond better to the drugs beta interferon or Copaxone than others. Now we’ve shown proof that you can cause MS-like syndrome in mice due to qualitatively different types of inflammatory damage. As a result, these two kinds of inflammation likely require different approaches to treatment,” says Segal. He directs the Holtom-Garrett Program in Neuroimmunology and is the Holtom-Garrett Family Professor of Neurology at the U-M Medical School.

It’s not yet known whether the same differences will prove true in people with MS. But the study suggests the need to develop drugs tailored to affect distinct inflammation pathways that might drive different forms of relapsing-remitting MS.

“We speculate at some point being able to identify and measure active inflammatory agents in patients, and to develop customized profiles that would help predict what treatments will be effective,” Segal says.

Research details and further implications can be found on the source’s webpage (medical news today – also found under ‘links’).