UC San Diego scientists are researching whether cannabidiol can relieve symptoms of children with autism. They received a donation of $4.7 million for this project.
The precise causes of autism remain unknown. But the brains of people with autism have abnormalities, such as a decrease in the amount of serotonin available, a molecule involved in mood control. Cannabidiol (CBD), extracted from cannabis, has effects on the central nervous system that may be of interest to autistic patients. For example, CBD promotes the activity of endocannabinoids, neurotransmitters involved in mood, memory, and other cognitive processes.
The Medical Cannabis Research Center, located at the University of California at San Diego, received a major donation from the Ray and Tye Noorda Foundation to support its work. This sum is intended for research into treatments using cannabinoids to relieve the symptoms of children suffering from severe autism.
A clinical trial to evaluate the value of cannabidiol
Igor Grant, professor of psychiatry and director of the research center, explained in a statement that “The most severe manifestations of autism are difficult to treat, pushing parents to seek non-traditional cures. Some unconfirmed data suggest that cannabidiol may be useful, “but there are no specific studies to document its benefits or safety. The donation will help implement a research program, with a clinical trial and fundamental studies to find out if the cannabidiol trail is interesting.
The medical cannabis research center, established in 2000, has already worked on the use of therapeutic cannabis for chronic pain.