A charity is to begin funding a clinical trial to investigate the use of cannabis oil to treat pain and itching in adults with a potentially fatal skin condition.
The trial will be launched by DEBRA, the only national charity supporting people who suffer from Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB), a condition which causes the skin to blister and tear at the slightest touch.
EB currently affects more than 5,000 people in the UK, and causes pain and itching, with blisters having to be drained and dressed every day.
Current treatments include the prolonged used of opiates and anti-inflammatories, which are known to lead to unwanted and unnecessary side effects.
DEBRA says the trial hopes to find out if the use of cannabinoid-based medicines could improve the life of people suffering with EB, and will involve an oil being administered as droplets under the tongue.
Fifteen participants, aged 18 and over, will take part in the study over a three-year period at the Centre for Blistering Diseases at the University Medical Centre Groningen in the Netherlands.
Caroline Collins, director of research at DEBRA, said: “We are extremely pleased to fund this clinical trial, particularly in light of the government’s decision to legalise some forms of medical cannabis.
“Anecdotal reports from people suffering from EB suggest that cannabinoid-based medicines (CBMs) are effective for pain and itch symptom control.
“The clinical trial will start to gather the scientific evidence needed to prove that CBMs are an effective treatment for pain and itch caused by EB and will begin the work towards a new treatment protocol and evidence-based guidelines for the management of these debilitating symptoms, which we hope will improve the quality of life for many.”
Simon Weston CBE, president of DEBRA, added: “For many years I was taking opiates to deal with the pain from both injuries and surgery. An alternative method of pain control will be a welcome relief.”