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Unlocking medical cannabis’ mechanism of action in autism

Results from a study contribute to understanding how cannabis helps maintain central nervous system homeostasis in children with autism.



Unlocking medical cannabis’ mechanism of action in autism
Home » Science » Unlocking medical cannabis’ mechanism of action in autism

A new study has identified 22 lipid-based biomarkers that shifted to the “physiological range of typically developing children” following treatment with cannabis.

Recent studies have suggested that cannabis oils with CBD and those with THC can be effective treatments for managing autism. Characterised by a range of different symptoms, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) can impact communication, behaviour, as well as language and learning among others.

Whilst there is currently no standard treatment for ASD, people have been increasingly turning to cannabis oils to help manage symptoms of ASD.

A paper, published in December 2021 by biotechnology company Cannformatics, examined saliva of children with ASD who had been treated with different cannabis/CBD products. The results from the pilot study established cannabis-responsive biomarkers which the company suggest can be used as a universal tool for measuring the impact of medical cannabis. 

Cannformatics has now published additional findings in the journal Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research. Results in the paper, ‘The potential of salivary lipid-based Cannabis-Responsive biomarkers to evaluate medical cannabis treatment in children with ASD’, identify 22 new potential lipid-based cannabis-responsive biomarkers in the saliva of children with ASD. 

According to Cannformatics, the 22 biomarkers shifted toward the physiological range of typically developing children following successful medical cannabis treatment. 

The biomarkers include central nervous system lipids primarily associated with cellular activity in the brain – which it says indicated the potential impact of medical cannabis on neuron function in children with ASD.

CEO and co-founder of Cannformatics, Itzhak Kurek, PhD, commented: “By unlocking medical cannabis’ mechanism of action, we demonstrate that cannabis-responsive biomarkers can provide life science companies and clinicians with new tools for understanding the role of cannabis in maintaining homeostasis of the central nervous system in children with ASD. 

“This study also opens new opportunities to evaluate medical cannabis treatment in neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and ALS, in which some of these potential lipid-based Cannabis-Responsive biomarkers are known to play a role.

“We are now in position to raise the capital needed to launch the ASD service platform and expand into neurodegenerative diseases.”

The company has stated that the paper, together with results from the December pilot study, demonstrate the potential for saliva-based cannabis-responsive biomarkers to be a tool for both clinicians treating patients with medical cannabis and life science companies developing next-generation cannabinoid-based medicines and applications.

Chief commercial officer and co-founder of Cannformatics, Kenneth Epstein, added: “We continue to be grateful to the children and families that participated in the study as well as our sponsors Canniatric and Whole Plant Access for Autism. 

“The findings from this study went well beyond our expectations.”

Based on the results, Cannformatics aims to launch a personalised medicine service as a resource to healthcare providers and patients wanting to use cannabinoid-based medicines and products to treat complex medical conditions.

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Stephanie is the editor of Cannabis Wealth and Psychedelic Health, writing about science, research, policy and industry developments in cannabis, CBD and psychedelics. In 2013 Stephanie gained her BA in English and Media, focusing on journalism and propaganda, where her magazine 'Game Theory' focused on developments and disruptors over the coming decade including cannabis, psychedelics, blockchain/crypto and free speech. In 2015 Stephanie received her National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ) diploma whilst working as a reporter in North Wales. After working for a number of years as a local journalist, Stephanie became the editor of two publications covering health and wellness, including psychedelics and global developments in cannabis, before joining the team at Aspect publishing. Stephanie has a specialism in Medical Cannabis: The Health Effects of THC and CBD through the University of Colorado, and a certificate from the Medical Cannabis Clinicians Society on "Medical Cannabis Explained". Contact:


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