Researchers at University of Notre Dame Australia have selected Perth-based Catholic Homes to be part of a ground-breaking study of the use of medicinal cannabis for dementia patients. Source: The eRecord.
The clinical trial, which is to be held over 14 months, will involve 50 participants over the age of 65 with mild dementia who live in an accredited residential aged care facility. The study will undertaken by the university’s Institute for Health Research in partnership with Israel-based MGC Pharmaceuticals.
More than 400,000 Australians live with dementia and more than 1.5 million Australians are involved in their care.
Michelle Barrow, executive manager of residential care services at Catholic Homes, says the organisation is committed to this innovative treatment for the long term, adding that this treatment method is a much softer approach to traditional treatments.
The medical cannabis oil, called “Cognicann”, will be trialled over 18 weeks as an oral spray.
Catholic Homes’ residents are invited to volunteer, starting this month. To be eligible for the trial, they must have a diagnosis of dementia, live in a residential aged care facility, be aged 65 years or older, and are compliable to taking medication.
“We’re optimistic that the cannabis trials will help to reduce behavioural and neuropsychiatric symptoms ranging from anxiety, aggression, insomnia, and hallucinations. Medicinal cannabis may also increase appetite in those who have experienced a loss of appetite as a symptom of dementia,” Ms Barrow said.
Institute Director Jim Codde says the aim of the study is to improve the quality of life for dementia and Alzheimer’s suffers by freeing them from a range of agitation and psychotic symptoms that comes with the disease, and often impact on the 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,” Professor Codde said.
The university's pro vice-chancellor Professor Greg Blatch said the study reflects the university’s focus on ground-breaking, collaborative research that makes a real difference to local, national and international communities.