Researchers at the University of California San Franciso's Benioff Children's Hospital will be the first in an international study to test whether purified cannabinoid - yes, the stuff in marijuana - will treat severe forms of childhood epilepsy for those who do not react to traditional drugs.
The study started a month ago as doctors gave patients the drug, Epidiolex, which is a purified liquid substance that contains no tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main chemical substance in a cannabis plant.
The trial will consist of 150 patients, ranging from ages 1 to 18 years old, across six medical centers.
During the study, children will be closely monitored over a span of a year, according to the university.
Currently UCSF and NYU Langone Medical Center are the only two centers to launch the trial. An additional four more will be added, depending on consent from the FDA.
The initial experiment stemmed from results last April after doctors at Benioff Children's Hospital gave two patients the drug.
The drug used on patients, is produced by GW Pharmaceuticals, a British-based biopharmaceutical company and has not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. However, according the UCSF, Epidolex is carefully "monitored" and "regulated" by the FDA and U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency.
The study led by Dr. Joseph Sullivan and Dr. Maria Roberta Cilio, both hope the year-long trial will provide beneficial results for these children who have no other options for treatment.