Help from on high

Canning Gazette - - NEWS - Michael Palmer

AGED care provider Catholic Homes, which runs Cas­tledare Vil­lage in Wil­son, is tak­ing part in medic­i­nal cannabis tri­als.

It has been se­lected by the Univer­sity of Notre Dame to be part of a study by its Institute for Health Re­search in part­ner­ship with Is­rael-based MGC Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals.

The 14-month clin­i­cal trial will in­volve 50 peo­ple older than 65 with mild de­men­tia and who live in an ac­cred­ited res­i­den­tial aged care fa­cil­ity.

The search for vol­un­teers started this month.

To be el­i­gi­ble for the trial, they must have a di­ag­no­sis of de­men­tia, live in a res­i­den­tial aged care fa­cil­ity, be 65 years or older and can take med­i­ca­tion. They will be given a medic­i­nal cannabis oil called Cog­ni­cann as an oral spray.

All par­tic­i­pants will be ran­domly al­lo­cated into two treat­ment groups where they will be ad­min­is­tered and al­ter­nated be­tween the med­i­cal cannabis oil and a placebo trial.

Safety mon­i­tors will be in place to mon­i­tor side ef­fects, as well as with­drawal and exit strate­gies where needed.

More than 400,000 Aus­tralians

live with de­men­tia and more than 1.5 mil­lion Aus­tralians are in­volved in their care.

Res­i­den­tial care ser­vices ex­ec­u­tive man­ager Michelle Bar­row said the trial’s treat­ment method was a much softer ap­proach to tra­di­tional treat­ments.

“We’re op­ti­mistic the cannabis tri­als will help to re­duce be­havioural and neu­ropsy­chi­atric symp­toms rang­ing from anx­i­ety, ag­gres­sion, in­som­nia and hal­lu­ci­na­tions,” she said.

“Medic­i­nal cannabis may also in­crease ap­petite in those who have ex­pe­ri­enced a loss of ap­petite as a symp­tom of de­men­tia.”

Institute for Health Re­search di­rec­tor Pro­fes­sor Jim Codde said the study hoped to im­prove the qual­ity of life for de­men­tia and Alzheimer’s suf­fer­ers by free­ing them from ag­i­ta­tion and psy­chotic symp­toms that come with the dis­ease and of­ten af­fect their fam­i­lies and loved ones.

“Plan­ning for the study has been ex­tremely ex­ten­sive and in­volved other key stake­hold­ers, in­clud­ing med­i­cal ex­perts, aged care prac­ti­tion­ers and our ethics com­mit­tee to en­sure the well-being of par­tic­i­pants through­out the study,” he said.

Notre Dame pro vicechan­cel­lor Pro­fes­sor Greg Blatch said the study was part of the univer­sity’s fo­cus on re­search that made a real difference.

“Notre Dame’s health and med­i­cal re­search has been rated well above the world stan­dard and is un­der­pinned by strong part­ner­ships with in­dus­try,” he said.

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