Dublin, 16 May 2018 - A new partnership between FutureNeuro, the SFI Research Centre for Chronic and Rare Neurological diseases based at RCSI and GreenLight Medicines, an indigenous Irish biopharmaceutical company has been formed to develop new cannabis-based treatments for drug resistant epilepsies, and in particular, childhood epilepsies.
The research will explore how cannabidiol (CBD) and other non-psychoactive molecules from the cannabis plant can reduce seizures. It will also look at optimising the effectiveness of this new approach to treat epilepsy.
"This project has strong alignment with FutureNeuro's strategic goal to bring novel treatments to patients in Ireland with difficult to control epilepsy" said Professor David Henshall, academic supervisor on the project and FutureNeuro Director.
An estimated 10,000 people in Ireland are resistant to current treatments for epilepsy, which is one of the most common neurological diseases. This means that many people with epilepsy are having numerous, uncontrolled seizures every day. Uncontrolled seizures can also result in other devastating effects, including a reduction in cognitive abilities.
Dr. Colin Doherty, National Clinical Lead for Epilepsy and a Principal Investigator at the FutureNeuro Centre said, "The use of cannabis to treat epilepsy offers a tantalising new horizon for severe disabling seizures. The mechanism by which CBD exerts its antiepileptic effects is currently unknown, and this impactful research will help to provide clinical evidence of its long-term efficacy, as well as data on any long-term side effects."
Emerging experimental and human evidence suggests that CBD and possibly other components of cannabis plant extracts reduce seizures in patients with rare genetic epilepsies and may have potential as a treatment for refractory epilepsy.
Dr. James Linden, CEO of GreenLight Medicines said "We are delighted to work with FutureNeuro to investigate if Greenlight compounds have potential as treatments for drug-resistant epilepsy. It is a great opportunity to make a difference to the lives of thousands of epilepsy patients across the globe".
The partnership will create a large research framework connecting internationally-recognised neuroscientists, research infrastructure and pre-clinical models and will enable identification and interaction with clinicians who can assist with translation to the clinic.
Director of Programmes and Investments at Science Foundation Ireland Dr. Darrin Morrissey said "FutureNeuro brings together an exceptional team of scientists, clinicians and other experts to address the urgent needs of patients with chronic and rare neurological diseases such as epilepsy and motor neurone disease. In a globally unique way, the Centre will undertake cutting-edge research on diagnosis and treatment of neurological disorders that leverages the emerging electronic healthcare infrastructure in Ireland. With industry partners and hospital networks, the Centre aims to translate research into effective diagnostic supports, treatments and monitoring systems to benefit the lives of patients living with these debilitating and often devastating conditions".
FutureNeuro, which is funded by Science Foundation Ireland and based at RCSI, aims to deliver new technologies and solutions for the treatments, diagnosis and monitoring of chronic and rare neurological diseases.
Notes to Editors
FutureNeuro is a new SFI Research Centre dedicated to developing new technologies and solutions for the treatment, diagnosis, and monitoring of chronic and rare neurological diseases. It is supported by Science Foundation Ireland.
Initially focusing on Epilepsy and Motor Neurone Disease, FutureNeuro will build rapidly to help transform the lives of the approximately 700,000 people affected by neurological disorders in Ireland.
It connects national and multinational industry with key academics and clinicians based in our leading hospitals to provide diagnostic, therapeutic and E-Health solutions.
FutureNeuro's projects with industry partners will bring diagnostic supports to market, a pipeline of new drugs, and connected health solutions that enable patients to monitor and report their health better than ever before.
RCSI is ranked among the top 250 (top 2%) of universities worldwide in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings (2018) and its research is ranked first in Ireland for citations. It is an international not-for-profit health sciences institution, with its headquarters in Dublin, focused on education and research to drive improvements in human health worldwide. RCSI is a signatory of the Athena SWAN Charter.