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Published last month in the open-access journal PeerJ, investigators at the University of Reading say the findings strengthen support for chemicals in marijuana as seizure treatments.
“These results provide the first molecular confirmation of behaviourally observed effects of the non-psychoactive, anticonvulsant cannabinoid, CBDV, upon chemically (pentylenetetrazole)-induced seizures and serve to underscore its suitability for clinical development.”
CBD (cannabidiol) and CBDV (cannabidivarin) have both shown anti-seizure potential in animal studies, but human trials have so far only involved CBD.
Using rat models, the researchers found that CBDV could suppress not only seizure activity, but the expression of specific epilepsy-related genes as well.
The team focused on a set of genes that are significantly increased in epilepsy and are thought to contribute to the disorder.
“Clear correlations between seizure severity and mRNA expression were observed for these genes in the majority of brain regions of CBDV + PTZ (pentylenetetrazole) treated animals and mRNA expression of these genes was suppressed in the majority of brain regions examined from the CBDV responder subgroup.”
While the results can’t confirm that gene suppression is directly responsible for CBDV’s anti-seizure effect, the authors conclude that it provides “important acute biomarkers for additional investigation” of long-term treatment with CBDV.
The study was conducted as part of an ongoing epilepsy research project between GW Pharmaceuticals and Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co, Ltd.