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Australian First Medicinal Cannabis Trial for Tourette’s Syndrome

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Chris Wright is the first participant to commence a clinical trial of medicinal cannabis as a treatment for the neurological disorder Tourette’s syndrome – a movement disorder which begins in childhood and is characterised by involuntary movements and vocalisations. 

The trial is being conducted by Wesley Medical Research in Brisbane, with the support of the Lambert Initiative at the University of Sydney.

First patient Chris Evans and Dr Phil Mosely
Chris Wright and Dr Philip Mosely on day one of the Clinical Trial.

Chris developed Tourette’s syndrome in childhood and despite medication, his condition has persisted. Some people with Tourette’s syndrome experience side-effects existing therapies including fatigue and weight-gain.

“The purpose of this clinical trial is to investigate whether medicinal cannabis is a potential therapy for people with Tourette’s syndrome,” said Wesley Medical Research lead investigator and neuropsychiatrist Dr Philip Mosley.

The medicinal cannabis, developed to pharmaceutical standards, contains a mixture of cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) – two phytocannabinoids derived from the cannabis plant. The Lambert Initiative will be supplying the drug for this trial.

“Given the public interest in the therapeutic use of cannabis, it’s important to conduct rigorous and methodologically-sound research” said Dr Mosley.

At 31, Chris is working full-time in Customer Service in Brisbane and spends his day trying to regulate his tics. “Any reprieve would very welcome. It is getting to the point where I don’t know what to do, it feels as though it all gets too much sometimes,” said Chris.

Participants in the clinical trial at Wesley Medical Research will complete two 6-week “crossover” periods of treatment with active drug or placebo, with both participants and investigators unaware of treatment status until the trial is complete.

“Tourette’s has really been a blow to my confidence… my life in general, I often spend my days off sleeping and recovering just to do it all again…,” said Chris.

“Our focus is to give people like Chris these opportunities to improve their quality of life. We offer hope and answers through medical research. We are fortunate to have dedicated front-line clinicians like Dr Mosley leading this important work and donors who continue to support this valuable research” said Dr Jennifer Schafer, Senior Research Manager.

“There is already early evidence to support the successful treatment of Tourette’s syndrome with cannabinoids” said Professor Iain McGregor, Academic Director of the Lambert Initiative. “This clinical trial could have a major impact and greatly improve the lives of those living with Tourette’s syndrome.”

Wesley Medical Research has commenced recruitment for the trial. If patients wish to find out more or register their interest, please visit: www.wesleyresearch.org.au/tourettes

Do you have Tourette's Syndrome?

You may be able to contribute to research into the condition.

Researchers at Wesley Medical Research are investigating the use of medicinal cannabis oil to treat Tourette’s syndrome.

You may be eligible if you:

  • Are between 18 to 70
  • Have a history of Tourette’s syndrome
  • Able to visit Wesley Medical Research fortnightly for 5 months

More to explore...

Wesley Medical Research

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