By Sean Marshall
This week there was another update on the treatment of sickle cell anemia pain with medical marijuana. According to ABC’s channel 7 news vaporized medical marijuana is getting the green light for testing on human subjects. Originally the study almost didn’t happen. Many states do not approve of the use of medical marijuana as a pain suppressor. This meant that all testing had to move to San Francisco, where it is legal to use medical marijuana. Even then the study still had to go through vigorous animal testing phases before even allowing the study to begin on humans.
According to the report the reason why marijuana is even being considered is because many of the breeds of marijuana being used in the study contain a chemical called CBD. Doctor Abrams, one of the individuals working on the testing, explained why CBD is so important "CBD is another cannabinoid, one of the active ingredients in the plant. It's not psychoactive, but it is active against inflammation and pain.”
This initial discovery was made when mice that were genetically programmed to develop sickle cell disease were given certain pain reducing drugs. The mice that were treated with marijuana that was high in CBD showed “less pain and less inflammation.”
The real challenge, according to the article was providing a way to get the CBD into the brain in the least harmful way possible. The way the team handled this was vaporizing the plant. According to team members “Vaporizers provide one of the safest ways to ingest the medicine because you're not actually burning any plant matter.”
Luckily after a yearlong study by the FDA had found that “vaporized CBD was not harmful to mice or dogs,” the testing can now start on human subjects.
There are some ethical issues involved such as genetically modifying animals to have sickle cell disease, or the use of medical marijuana but the article only addresses the medical issues of pain treatment. All in all any step forward in sickle cell treatment is usually a good one.
If you would like to learn more about the process involving vaporization you can go to the link: http://abc7news.com/health/vaporized-medical-marijuana-study-given-green-light/261437/
Other news this week involved an article from News Works an online source of news in the Philly region. The article is actually filled with all sorts of interesting sickle cell stories and points of view from the day in the life of a young boy with sickle cell disease to section on disparities and diagnosis. The particular section that seemed so unique was called “The Forgotten Disease.” In this part of the article it addressed the issues the public has with sickle cell.
The section deals with the opinions of Doctor Kwaku Ohene-Frempong and like the title indicates it is he feels sickle cell disease has been forgotten. He explains that "People used to hear a lot more about sickle cell disease in the 70s.” He goes on to say that because of all the inactivity some of the population could think that the disease has been cured.
It is explained by News Works that sickle cell disease has been documented and studied for over 100 years but there is still no known cure. It is mentioned that a tone point that the medical community felt that once gene therapy was developed there could be a way to cure sickle cell disease.
Yet Ohene-Frempong explained that “we've had gene therapy for 15 years or so and not a single bona fide attempt at gene therapy has been done on sickle cell disease." Despite life expectance and drug therapy for pain have increased no real attempts at gene therapy related cures have been made. This is why Ohene-Frempong feels that sickle cell is the forgotten disease.
If you would like to view the entire article and read up on other sickle cell issues in the Philly region follow the link provided: http://www.newsworks.org/index.php/local/item/71459-sickle-cell-disease-still-persists-100-years-after-discovery?linktype=hp_topstory
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