A new study launches to look at cannabis for non-cancer palliative care in children

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Initial research has shown that cannabis is a great ally in fighting certain types of cancer

End-of-life care is one of the least discussed uses of medical cannabis. After all, most who turn to cannabis want to continue living. With cannabis’ ability to ameliorate the large symptom burden experienced by patients with minimal side effects, palliative care is perhaps the area of medicine that would benefit most from its clinical use. A new study is now exploring the plant in children receiving non-cancer palliative care. It is considered the first in the world to investigate the feasibility of a clinical trial of medical cannabis in this patient group.

Led by the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute in Australia, the study is intended to be a pioneer in analyzing the feasibility of a clinical trial of medical cannabis to alleviate symptoms in children receiving palliative care for non-oncological conditions. A total of ten participants will be involved, ranging in age from six months to 21 years.

Daryl Efron, associate professor at Murdoch Children’s, will lead this research. He says the trial will be used to evaluate the study design, including drug tolerability, recruitment strategy, and outcomes to determine acceptability and feasibility for participating families and the team. With the data obtained, Efron says he will be able to develop a “large-scale multicenter trial.

“In our experience, parents are interested in obtaining medical cannabis for their children’s symptoms, but physicians are reluctant to prescribe it due to a lack of quality research. There is an urgent need for clinical trials to properly evaluate the role of medical cannabis for use in these highly vulnerable patients,” said Professor Efron.