Cannabinoid-based medication has the potential to provide an alternative treatment for chronic pain.
The usual treatment for chronic pain is prescription opioids, but these drugs can have serious side effects, including physical dependence. The epidemic of opioid addiction has become a global crisis, with a high mortality and growing number of people being treated for dependence on painkillers. The rate of accidental deaths due to opioids has doubled for Australians aged 35 to 44 since 2007, with more than two-thirds of these deaths due to pharmaceutical opioids.
The epidemic of opioid addiction has clinicians looking for a non-drug treatment.
Zelda Therapeutics believes there is clear potential to use cannabinoids to reduce the use of opioids in patients requiring chronic pain management.
The company is partnering with the prestigious St Vincent’s Hospital, Melbourne to investigate the use of certain cannabinoid medications to help patients who are dependent on high doses of opioids to manage their chronic pain.
Working with world-class pain and addiction medicine researchers at St Vincent’s, in 2018 Zelda Therapeutics began a clinical trial program to test these medicines. Should the trial results show benefits, Zelda expects to be able to supply these cannabinoid medicines to Australian patients through specialists registered under the Authorised Prescriber Scheme.
Zelda Therapeutics is conducting Australia’s first medicinal cannabis trial targeting insomnia.
The trial is being undertaken by the prestigious University of Western Australia (UWA) Centre for Sleep Science (CSS), which has state-of-the-art research facilities and is directed by Professor Peter Eastwood, National Health and Medical Research Council Senior Research Fellow.
The clinical trial is studying patients with characteristic symptoms of chronic insomnia, which include difficulty falling asleep, and staying asleep, on a long-term basis. Zelda Therapeutics expects preliminary results from this clinical trial to be available in the
first half of 2019. If the trial is successful, the company sees strong potential to provide a safe and effective medicine to patients with insomnia, and also potentially for other sleep disorders.
The study will determine the effect of the Zelda formulation on the time of onset of sleep, sleep cycle duration and quality of sleep. In addition, subjective feedback from patients via standard questionnaires will be collected and analysed alongside the analytical data collected.
Working with researchers at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) in the US, Zelda Therapeutics is conducting an observational trial aimed at paediatric autism, studying the use of cannabinoid-based treatments in controlled clinical settings. The ultimate goal of the trial is to identify cannabinoid-based compounds that may show effectiveness in the treatment of paediatric autism. The study could provide a platform for possible future clinical trials.