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New study reveals how CBD can reduce seizures in pediatric patients with treatment-resistant epilepsy

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‘The study also clarified, not just how CBD counters seizures, but more broadly how circuits are balanced in the brain’

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A molecule that weakens brain signals meant to counter seizures can be hindered by cannabidiol (CBD), a new study has found.

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Published in the peer-reviewed journal Neuron, the study confirmed previous findings that CBD can block signals by the molecule lysophosphatidylinositol (LPI) and argues that LPI weakens signals that counter seizures. The findings shed light on the role CBD can play in reducing seizures in pediatric patients with treatment-resistant epilepsy.

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Led by researchers at NYU Grossman School of Medicine, the findings “deepen the field’s understanding of a central seizure-inducing mechanism, with many implications for the pursuit of new treatment approaches,” said corresponding author Richard W. Tsien, chair of the Department of Physiology and Neuroscience at NYU Langone Health.

“The study also clarified, not just how CBD counters seizures, but more broadly how circuits are balanced in the brain,” added Tsien. “Related imbalances are present in autism and schizophrenia, so the paper may have a broader impact.”

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Neuronal circuits require coordination between synaptic excitation and inhibition to function properly and dysfunction in the excitatory-inhibitory (E:I) ratio can result in seizures, explains New Atlas

The researchers used a rodent model to test the relationship between LPI and a protein called G-coupled receptor 55 (GPR55) as a potential modulator of E:I ratio.

After confirming that CBD blocks LPI signals, researchers discovered that when LPI interacts with GPR55, it also weakens the signals that suppress seizures. CBD can help restore the E:I ratio and break up a feedback loop that can result in prolonged seizure activity.

Previous studies have found that CBD is associated with reduced seizure frequency in patients with refractory epilepsy and in children with intractable epilepsy.

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In 2018, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Epidiolex, a CBD oral solution, for the treatment of Lennox-Gastaut and Dravet syndromes in children. Epidoleix is both the first FDA-approved drug that contains a purified drug substance derived from cannabis and the first FDA-approved drug for the treatment of Dravet syndrome.  

A rare form of intractable epilepsy that begins in infancy, Dravet syndrome has an estimated incidence rate of 1:15,700, per the Dravet Foundation

Both syndromes produce large numbers of seizures that are resistant to traditional epilepsy treatments. A 2020 study found that CBD as an oral solution can reduce the frequency of seizures by more than 25 per cent and, in some cases, patients can become seizure-free.

  1. While there is growing evidence that CBD can help with certain conditions, caution is needed.

    CBD is not a cure-all. Here’s what science says about its real health benefits

  2. Argentinian investigators reviewed the experiences of eight West syndrome patients who “were refractory to anti-seizure medications.” /

    Study: CBD-enriched cannabis oil reduced seizures in most children with West syndrome

  3. “Acidic cannabinoids are the cannabinoids that are biosynthesised in the plant and are found in artisanal cannabis extracts used to treat children with epilepsy,” the university reports. /

    Mice study shows three cannabinoids reduced seizures of those with Dravet syndrome

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