Researchers from Imperial College London are looking for volunteers totest whether cannabinoids, the active ingredient of cannabis, can beused to alleviate the sensation of breathlessness caused by illnessessuch as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
The team are looking for volunteers aged between 50 and 70, who don't havebreathing difficulties.
Dr Elspeth Pickering, clinical research fellow, from ImperialCollege London and Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, says: "Despite thebest efforts of scientists for many years, no one has been able todevelop a way to deal with the sensation of breathlessness withoutsuppressing the drive to breathe. Breathlessness can have a majorimpact on the quality of life for patients with respiratory diseases,and by using a cannabinoid, we hope to find a way to block themechanism which causes it."
The researchers believe the cannabinoids could be used toreduce the sensation of breathlessness without depressing therespiratory system.
The study will take a morning on two different days, duringwhich time volunteers will be hooked up to a circuit to regulate andmeasure their breathing. Carbon dioxide will be added to the airbreathed by the volunteers, causing the sensation of breathlessness.This is a safe method of simulating breathlessness as the bodynaturally produces carbon dioxide.
Afterwards the volunteers will be given a spray which includestetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active ingredient in cannabis, whichresearchers hope will reduce the sensation of breathlessness.
Dr Anita Holdcroft from Imperial College London and Chelsea andWestminster Hospital, and study leader, adds: "The special formulationof the drug as a spray avoids the harmful effects of smoking cannabis.We hope the drug will stop the sensation of breathlessness, potentiallyproviding a new way to deal with respiratory diseases."
The study will be conducted at Charing Cross Hospital in westLondon.Volunteers will be paid for their time committed to the study.Volunteers aged between 50 and 70 who don't have breathing difficultiesand wish to take part should call 020 8846 1234 ext. 7055 to registertheir interest.
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