Trial in the works for Michigan hospital to treat kids with epilepsy


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) – A big development in the treatment of epilepsy in children is about to get underway on Grand Rapids’ Medical Mile.

Helen Devos Children’s Hospital is in the final stages of approval to start testing cannabidiol oil in children who suffer from neurological disorders like epilepsy, 24 Hour News 8 has learned.

“These are the cases, the children and the individuals, for whom no other therapy is working,” said Phil Gattone, president of the Epilepsy Foundation of America.

Gattone, who was attending a fundraising event in East Grand Rapids on Thursday, said he was hopeful more clinical trials of cannabidiol, or CBD oil, would lead to a breakthrough in the treatment of neurological disorders like epilepsy. Epilepsy is a condition that can lead to death and one that often times doesn’t respond to traditional medicine. Gattone says early trials have shown remarkable promise.

“These are the toughest of the tough cases of epilepsy and doctors are getting a 39 percent responding rate (in clinical trials). So there is great hope and we’re looking forward to seeing the results of this trial,” Gattone said.

News of new clinical trials comes as proposed reform to medical marijuana law is stalled in the Michigan Senate – specifically House Bill 4210, which would amend the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act to allow the legal use of marijuana-infused products for medical purposes.

While medical marijuana is legal in Michigan, there is a gap in the availability of edible and non-smokable forms. This is especially important for children with severe epilepsy syndromes who have found some relief through the use of CBD oil.

“It’s very frustrating because this is an oil. There is no smoking, it is not traditional marijuana. This is an oil. It has none of the ingredients of when people think of traditional medical marijuana,” Gattone said.

If the hospital clears final approval, clinical trials could start as early as June.

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