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MS Society of Canada and Canadian Institutes of Health Research Award $1.5M to Study Efficacy of Cannabis in Treating MS Symptoms

  • National News Release


The partnership established with the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), as part of the Integrated Cannabis Research Strategy (ICRS) involving several partner agencies and health charities, began in 2019. The decision of the current project supported by the MS Society of Canada and CIHR was made before the COVID-19 pandemic. 

People affected by MS are at the heart of everything we do. We remain steadfastly committed to supporting MS research across Canada. We continue to partner with the research community to move our mission forward and to support people affected by MS and to fund the research that is so fundamental to changing their lives.
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Toronto, ON – July 8, 2020 – The Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada, in partnership with the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), announced $1.5 million in funding for a clinical trial which aims to determine the clinical effects of cannabis derivatives, THC and CBD, in treating spasticity and other symptoms of multiple sclerosis (MS).

The legalization of cannabis in Canada in October 2018 has increased the need for evidence-based research on the efficacy of cannabis. Through this trial, Dr. Pierre Duquette, Centre hospitalier de l'Université de Montréal (CHUM), and his team of researchers will help establish evidence-based guidelines about the proper use of cannabis in treating symptoms of MS for patient and medical communities. People living with MS will be closely involved with all phases of the study.

“The MS Society has always emphasized the need for continued investment in research to study the effects of cannabis,” said Dr. Pamela Valentine, president and CEO, MS Society of Canada. “This trial is an opportunity to ensure there are effective evidence-informed treatment options to support symptom management.”

Up to 49 per cent of people living with MS have used cannabis to treat their symptoms. The trial, Is cannabis a useful adjunct in the treatment of symptoms of persons with multiple sclerosis? A formal trial of CBD and THC for the control of spasticity and other symptoms: assessing the clinical effects and the basic mechanisms, will enroll a selective cohort of people with MS who experience one or more symptoms, in a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blinded, parallel groups trial lasting four weeks, with a 12-week continuation phase for responders. Researchers will study the effects of cannabis on treating MS symptoms focusing on spasticity, with pain, sleep, fatigue, sphincteric function, and mood and cognition being secondary outcomes. They will also explore the pharmacology of THC and CBD and their effects on neuro-inflammation.

“We have assembled a team of nine clinicians and researchers with the goal of assessing the benefits and risks, over both the short and long term, of cannabis products used to treat MS symptoms, and to explore the mechanisms involved,” said Dr. Duquette. “This will allow persons with MS who wish to use cannabis derivatives such as THC and CBD, to treat MS symptoms in a proper way.”

The $1.5 million investment in this trial, spans over five years to help accelerate cannabis health research in MS. It is part of the Integrated Cannabis Research Strategy (ICRS) involving the following partner agencies: The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR), Institute of Circulatory and Respiratory Health (ICRH), Institute of Human Development, Child and Youth Health (IHDCYH), Institute of Indigenous Peoples’ Health (IIPH), Institute of Musculoskeletal Health and Arthritis (IMHA) and the Institute of Neurosciences, Mental Health and Addiction (INMHA) in partnership with the Arthritis Society, Canadian Cancer Society, MS Society of Canada and the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC).

To learn more about the CIHR and ICRS, please visit https://cihr-irsc.gc.ca/e/51932.html.

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About multiple sclerosis and the MS Society of Canada

Canada has one of the highest rates of multiple sclerosis in the world. On average, 11 Canadians are diagnosed every day. MS is a chronic autoimmune disease of the central nervous system (brain, spinal cord). It is considered an episodic disease meaning that the severity and duration of illness and disability can vary and are often followed by periods of wellness. Most people are diagnosed with MS between the ages of 20 and 49 and the unpredictable effects of the disease will last for the rest of their lives. The MS Society provides information, support and advocacy to people affected by MS, and funds research to find the cause and cure for the disease, bringing us closer to a world free of MS. Please visit mssociety.ca or call 1-800-268-7582 for more information, to get involved, or to support Canadians affected by MS by making a donation.

Join the conversation and connect with the MS community online. Find the MS Society on Twitter, Instagram or like our page on Facebook.

CONTACT:

Jennifer Asselin
MS Society of Canada
1-800-268-7582 ext. 3144
jennifer.asselin@mssociety.ca

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