Milestone for cannabinoid Multiple Sclerosis study 21 July 2008
The CUPID (Cannabinoid Use in Progressive Inflammatory brain Disease) study at the Peninsula Medical School has reached an important milestone with the news that the full cohort of 493 patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) has been recruited to the programme.
CUPID is a clinical trial part-funded by the MS Society, which will evaluate whether tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) - the main active ingredient in the cannabis plant and one of many compounds found in the organism - is able to slow the progression of MS.
It is an important study for people with MS, because current treatments either target the immune system in the early stages of MS, or ease specific symptoms such as muscle spasms or bladder problems.
The CUPID trial follows an earlier study - Cannabinoids and Multiple Sclerosis (CAMS) - which established a link between THC and the slowing of MS. The CAMS trial saw participants take THC for a year - the CUPID trial will last for longer and aims to assess the affect of THC on progressive MS.
It has taken two years to recruit the 493 patients, and they will take part in the trial for three years; in some cases three and a half years. After data cleaning and analysis the results should be available by spring/early summer 2012.
Dr Laura Bell, research communications officer for the MS Society, said: "People affected by MS are keen to know whether there's any truth in the suggestion that elements of the cannabis plant can help ease the symptoms and slow down progression of the condition.
"The MS Society is supportive of safe clinical trials investigating the medicinal properties of cannabis and it's great news that this trial is going ahead. We look forward to the results of this exciting study."
Professor John Zajicek from the Peninsula Medical School, who heads the team carrying out the CUPID study, said: "We are delighted to have achieved the correct number of patient participants for this trial. Patients have been recruited from 27 sites across the UK.
"If we are able to prove beyond reasonable doubt the link between THC and the slowing down of progressive MS, we will be able to develop an effective therapy for the many thousands of MS sufferers around the world."
The CUPID trial is jointly funded by the MS Society, the Multiple Sclerosis Trust and the Medical Research Council.