The largest private donation to date for medicinal cannabis research in the USA will help researchers determine if cannabidiol, a non-intoxicating cannabinoid, can be effective in treating children with severe autism.
The very generous gift was provided the Ray and Tye Noorda Foundation to the Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research (CMCR) at UC San Diego School of Medicine.
CMCR will partner with the Noorda and Wholistic Research and Education foundations for the study.
“Given numerous anecdotal reports from parents suggesting CBD may be improving their child’s functioning, we are thrilled to partner with UC San Diego to understand under what circumstances CBD may be effective for autism, and why it seems to help certain individuals and not others”, said Wholistic Research and Education Foundation’s Pelin Thorogood.
The trial, scheduled to launch in approximately a year, will evaluate the safety and efficacy of cannabidiol as well as delving into the mechanism that make it beneficial.
The clinical trial will involve 30 children with moderate or severe autism aged 8 to 12 years who are otherwise in good health. The first phase of the study will see half the children receiving an oral dose of CBD and the other half a placebo. The groups will be switched in the second phase. Those investigating will not know which children are receiving which treatment until after all testing is complete.
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) affects an estimated one in 68 children in the United States, with most of those impacted being boys.
Closer to home, two Australian paediatricians from the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute in Melbourne last month called for trials of medical cannabis in children with psychiatric or behavioral conditions such as autism, stating the need was urgent.
Trivia : probably the next most generous donation made towards medical cannabis research in the USA came from Australian philanthropists Barry and Joy Lambert, who donated USD $3 million to Thomas Jefferson University in the USA to support its Center for Medical Cannabis Education and Research.
The largest donation ever made to cannabis research we’re aware of anywhere in the world was an AUD $33.7 million (~USD $25.2 million) gift from Barry and Joy Lambert to the University of Sydney to fund the Lambert Initiative; which is researching the use of cannabinoids in treating a range of diseases.