Cannabidiol Improves Sociability of Autistic Mice

October 24, 2019 15:00:10

The list of conditions that can be alleviated by cannabidiol (CBD) has been growing at an exponential rate over the years. The compound has been found to have potent pain relief and anti-inflammatory properties that make it a powerful pain reliever. It counters insomnia, helps reduce anxiety, stress, and depression, and it helps reduce seizures in children with epilepsy.

Recently, researchers found additional evidence that CBD can be used to manage the symptoms of autism. A single dose of marijuana eased seizures and improved learning and sociability in mice with mutations in an autism gene called CDKL5.

According to Rachel White, a research assistant in Frances Jensen’s Lab at the University of Pennsylvania who presented the results, this is a starting point. “CBD had positive effects on the animals and no negative ones.” She was among the researchers who presented the work at the 2019 Society for Neuroscience annual meeting in Chicago, Illinois.

Children with CDKL5 deficiency disorder (previously known as atypical Rett Syndrome) are usually diagnosed with severe epilepsy in the first few months of their lives, followed by intellectual disability and autism-like behavior. This isn’t the first time CBD has been involved with autism-related conditions; last year, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a CBD medication called Epidiolex to treat seizures caused by Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet Syndrome.

The researchers used a mouse model that closely mirrors the seizure severity along with the social and cognitive problems seen in CDKL5 deficiency disorder. The researchers injected adult mice with either CBD or a saline solution before testing them. When compared to the controls, they found that the mice that received CBD injections spent more time with other animals and performed much better on memory and learning tests. They plan to study the long term effects of CBD treatments further.

“These animals grew up without any treatments, and just one treatment at a kat age was able to deliver these changes. Treating the mice earlier in life may give even better results,” says White, adding that it would also tell them if there’s any detrimental effect of growing up taking CBD. The researchers are investigating whether CBD’s target receptors in the brain are expressed differently during development in mice with CDKL5 mutations than in the controls.

Another study carried out last year found that CBD also suppresses seizures in children with CDKL5 deficiency disorder, and the new findings presented at the 2019 Society for Neuroscience annual meeting suggest that cannabidiol could also be used to improve behavioral problems.

One would be tempted to believe that these findings aren’t surprising to CBD industry actors like HTC Extraction Systems (TSX.V: HTC) and Willow Biosciences Corp. (CSE: WLLW) since they have always strongly believed in the holistic benefits of cannabidiol.

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