The first study of its kind will explore cannabis-responsive biomarkers in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
A pilot study in the US aims to be the first step in helping parents and healthcare professionals find the most effective way to use cannabis to improve the health and quality of life of children.
The observational study, led by Cannformatics – a US biotech startup – is being conducted in collaboration with Dr. Bonni Goldstein, a Los Angeles-based paediatrician who specialises in cannabis medicine.
Researchers will explore how to personalise medical cannabis treatments for individual children, through the identification and application of cannabis-responsive biomarkers found in saliva.
Its aim is to create a trusted resource for parents and health care professionals by providing data and insights to build an effective cannabis regimen for children with ASD.
Saliva samples from children with ASD will be collected pre- and post-consumption of a regularly prescribed dose of medical cannabis, as well as from age-matched neurotypical children.
Cannformatics’ platform will identify biomarkers that significantly changed following the consumption of medical cannabis, while samples from neurotypical children are collected and analysed to determine the baseline for healthy physiological range.
Participants will receive a report showing their individual changes in biomarkers related to ASD symptoms before and after medical cannabis consumption and the study’s overall findings will be published in a scientific journal.
To qualify for participation in the study, all children with ASD are required to be current patients of Dr. Goldstein.
Dr Goldstein, who is also medical Director for Canna – a California-based medical practice devoted to educating patients about the use of cannabis for serious and chronic medical conditions, said: “Identifying cannabis-responsive biomarkers furthers scientific understanding of the role cannabis plays in regulating the endocannabinoid system in children with autism.
“Today I have patients who are responding well to medical cannabis treatment with an improvement in quality of life and minimal side effects. I am optimistic that the data from this study will lead to more positive outcomes for children with autism.
Cannformatics aims to deliver predictable and repeatable science-based medical cannabis recommendations to improve health and quality of life.
Its early successes include identifying two cannabis-responsive biomarkers related to General Anxiety Disorder.
Ken Epstein, Chief Commercial Officer and co-founder of Cannformatics, commented: “This study is the first step toward providing families and health care providers treating autism with recommendations that will provide predictable and repeatable outcomes while improving overall impact.”
The study will also bring together three industry leaders in using cannabis to treat ASD, including Ray Mirzabegian founder of Canniatric and Rhonda Moeller, and Jenni Mai of Whole Plant Access for Autism.
Epstein added: “We are excited to have three medical cannabis trailblazers, who work tirelessly to help their children along with thousands of other families to effectively use medical cannabis. The three of them along with Dr. Goldstein are truly pioneers in using medical cannabis to treat ASD.”
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