Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada

Funded Research

Clinical trial to assess the use of cannabis derivatives in the treatment of multiple sclerosis symptoms

Year Awarded: 2020

Term: 5 years

Funding Amount: $1,500,000

Affiliation(s): Centre de Recherche du CHUM

Province(s): Quebec

Researcher(s): Dr. Pierre Duquette

Hot Topics: Cannabis

Research Priorities: Life-modifying therapies

Impact Goal(s): Advance Treatment and Care

Project Summary:

  • Few options are available to treat MS symptoms such as leg weakness with spasticity, pain, fatigue, sleep disruption, mood and cognitive impairment, thereby affecting the quality of life of those living with MS.
  • There is a need to better understand and assess the use of cannabis derivatives in the treatment of MS-related symptoms, both positive and negative.
  • The research team will evaluate the clinical effect of cannabis derivatives in the treatment of symptoms in people with MS, informing the development of evidence-based guidelines for patients and the medical professionals.

Investigators:

  • Dr. Pierre Duquette, Centre hospitalier de l'Université de Montréal (CHUM), Montreal, Canada
  • Dr. Natalie Arbour, Centre hospitalier de l'Université de Montréal (CHUM), Montreal, Canada
  • Dr. Didier Jutras-Aswad, Centre hospitalier de l'Université de Montréal (CHUM), Montreal, Canada

Project description:

People with MS experience numerous symptoms such as spasticity, pain, sleep dysfunction, fatigue, cognitive impairment and depression. While there are a number of disease-modifying therapies available to delay disease progression, there are few therapeutic options to relieve MS-associated symptoms. Up to 49% of people with MS, have reported using cannabis, mostly to enhance mood, to improve sleep, and to relieve pain and spasticity. With legalization of cannabis in Canada, establishing evidence-based guidelines for the proper use of cannabis-based products in the treatment of MS is critical.

The research team led by Dr. Duquette aims to assess the clinical effects of two derivatives of cannabis, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). The team will conduct a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blinded clinical trial that will enroll 250 people with MS. Participants in the trial will receive either THC alone, CBD alone, THC/CBD in combination or placebo over a four-week period. Those who are cannabis responders will be assessed for an additional 12 weeks. At the end of the treatment, the team will investigate the impact of the cannabis derivatives on various MS symptoms, spasticity, pain, and sleep, fatigue, cognition, and mental health among other symptoms. All study participants will be recruited from the CHUM MS Clinic.

Potential Impact: This study has the potential to enhance our knowledge on the benefits and harms of using cannabis to manage MS-related symptoms and to inform the development of evidence-based guidelines on the use of cannabis-based products in the treatment of MS symptoms.

This research study is funded in partnership with the Canadian Institutes of Health Research - refer to news - link

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