Breaking News
February 21, 2018 - Household Products May Pollute the Air as Much as Your Car Does: Study
February 21, 2018 - Combo Bests Targeted Agent in mRCC
February 21, 2018 - Researchers discover brain pathway that dissociates opioid addiction from analgesia
February 21, 2018 - Scientists uncover how newly discovered gene helps grow blood vessels
February 21, 2018 - Brain’s quality control process holds clues to obesity’s roots
February 21, 2018 - Researchers to study whether menstrual cups can help prevent vaginal infections
February 21, 2018 - MS patients who feel stigmatized more likely to suffer from depression
February 21, 2018 - Vitamin D supplementation during pregnancy could protect against childhood obesity
February 21, 2018 - Lower-Quality Medical Tx Might Have Skewed Key PCI vs CABG Trials
February 21, 2018 - Love and fear are visible across the brain instead of being restricted to any brain region
February 21, 2018 - Adults with congenital heart disease have increased risk for dementia, study finds
February 21, 2018 - Clinical trial studying type 1 diabetes reaches full enrollment
February 21, 2018 - Father’s stress affects the brain development of offspring, mice study shows
February 21, 2018 - ESRD Death Declines in Vasculitis Patients
February 21, 2018 - Taking ibuprofen for long periods found to alter human testicular physiology
February 21, 2018 - Google AI device could predict a person’s risk of a heart attack
February 20, 2018 - FDA Approves Domestic Source for Tc-99m Isotopes
February 20, 2018 - Sanofi rejects refund demand faces Philippine suit over dengue vaccine (Update)
February 20, 2018 - Researchers discover that activation of specific enzyme may help suppress tumor metastasis
February 20, 2018 - Blood or marrow transplantation survivors have higher risk of cognitive impairment
February 20, 2018 - Booze Beats Pot at Being Unhealthy: Oregon Poll
February 20, 2018 - Morning Break: ’20 Years Late’; Drugs in the Dirt; Catching Flu in the Dorm
February 20, 2018 - Another piece to the puzzle in naked mole rats’ long, cancer-free life
February 20, 2018 - Scientists identify four viruses that can produce insulin-like hormones
February 20, 2018 - New e-Health solution developed to prevent cardiovascular disease, dementia in senior citizens
February 20, 2018 - New genetic risk score could help guide screening decisions for prostate cancer
February 20, 2018 - Study finds higher risk of stroke among blacks with atrial fibrillation than whites
February 20, 2018 - Physical activity could be used as strategy for diabetes prevention
February 20, 2018 - Researchers develop sensing method for early detection of cancer and diabetes
February 20, 2018 - New wearable electronics could be game-changer for stroke rehabilitation
February 20, 2018 - Immune history influences person’s response to flu vaccine
February 20, 2018 - Research findings could help develop new drugs to prevent, treat dry eye disease
February 20, 2018 - Serenity Now! Learn to Have Patience with Patients
February 20, 2018 - Computer simulation addresses the problem of blood clotting
February 20, 2018 - Women with type 1 diabetes not protected against coronary artery disease
February 20, 2018 - Persistent bloating can be a sign of ovarian cancer, warns charity
February 20, 2018 - Trump administration proposes rule to loosen curbs on short-term health plans
February 20, 2018 - Key protein involved in epigenetic regulation of gene expression guides skin cell renewal
February 20, 2018 - Heart attack symptoms often missed in women
February 20, 2018 - Diagnosis of celiac disease takes 3.5 years for patients who do not report GI symptoms
February 20, 2018 - Study reveals functional dynamics of ion channels
February 20, 2018 - Study explores link between mortality risk and combustible tobacco use
February 20, 2018 - ‘She Trusted Me, and I’d Turned Her Away’
February 20, 2018 - AbbVie and Voyager Therapeutics collaborate to develop new treatments for tauopathies
February 20, 2018 - Fast food makes the immune system more aggressive in the long term
February 20, 2018 - Therapeutic target for glaucoma could have treatment ramifications for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s
February 20, 2018 - Overcoming Negative Reviews | Medpage Today
February 20, 2018 - MyD88—villain of allergies and asthma
February 20, 2018 - Food scientists develop rapid screening technique to detect pesticide residue in vegetables
February 20, 2018 - Lab-grown cerebellar cells may help explain how ASD develops at molecular level
February 20, 2018 - Scientists explore connection between bad sleep habits and stiff blood vessels
February 20, 2018 - New Treatment Apalutamide (Erleada) Approved for Prostate Cancer That Resists Hormone Therapy
February 20, 2018 - Do You Really Need My Signature on That?
February 20, 2018 - HIV-1 genetic diversity is higher in vaginal tract than in blood during early infection
February 20, 2018 - Diabetes does not increase work-loss years due to early retirement
February 20, 2018 - Researchers aim to find out how PTSD affects decisions of police
February 20, 2018 - UH Cleveland Medical Center explores novel treatments for uterine fibroids
February 20, 2018 - Flu Vax Efficacy 25% Against Predominant H3N2 Strain So Far
February 20, 2018 - HIV screening most optimal at 25 years of age if no risk factors
February 20, 2018 - Loyola Medicine primary care physician offers advice to minimize risk of flu
February 20, 2018 - Safe sleep recommendations for parents that may help reduce child’s risk of SUID
February 20, 2018 - Why Do So Few Docs Have Buprenorphine Waivers?
February 20, 2018 - Low levels of alcohol good for the brain
February 20, 2018 - Experimental treatment improves invisible symptoms of a man with spinal cord injury
February 20, 2018 - Myriad’s EndoPredict offers better prediction of breast cancer recurrence, analysis shows
February 20, 2018 - Researchers identify fifteen genes that determine our facial features
February 20, 2018 - Morning Break: New Health IT Player; Luxturna No Bargain; Nuclear Freakout
February 20, 2018 - How does it compare? Hospice care at home, at assisted living facility, at nursing home
February 19, 2018 - Scientists develop water-soluble warped nanographene for bioimaging
February 19, 2018 - It’s Not Your Imagination: You’re Hungrier After Losing Weight
February 19, 2018 - Antihypertensive Use At Delivery Rising in Preeclampsia
February 19, 2018 - A centuries-old math equation used to solve a modern-day genetics challenge
February 19, 2018 - Liquid biopsies could be used as new predictive marker for metastatic TNBC
February 19, 2018 - Russian researchers develop new multi-layered biodegradable scaffolds
February 19, 2018 - Are ‘Vaccine Skeptics’ Responsible for Flu Deaths?
February 19, 2018 - Hidden genetic effects behind immune diseases may be missed, study suggests
February 19, 2018 - Emergency nurses experience regular verbal and physical abuse
February 19, 2018 - Study sheds light on biology that guides behavior across different stages of life
February 19, 2018 - Morning Break: Transgender Breast Feeding; Brazilian ‘Pro-Vaxxers’; Post-Stroke Exercise
February 19, 2018 - Meningitis vaccination strategy in Africa found to be effective, economical
Synthetic cannabinoid reduces sleep apnea

Synthetic cannabinoid reduces sleep apnea

image_pdfDownload PDFimage_print
Illustration of obstruction of ventilation. Credit: Habib M’henni / public domain

A synthetic version of a molecule found in the cannabis plant was safe and effective in treating obstructive sleep apnea in the first large, multi-site study of a drug for the sleep disorder funded by the National Institutes of Health. The study was conducted at the University of Illinois at Chicago and Northwestern Medicine.

There currently is no drug treatment for sleep apnea, a sleep breathing disorder affecting about 30 million individuals in the United States and linked to numerous health problems. In sleep apnea, breathing is interrupted. These pauses can last from a few seconds to several minutes and can occur 30 times or more in an hour. Untreated sleep apnea raises the risk of heart disease, diabetes, sleepiness and cognitive impairment, as well as the risk of having a motor vehicle accident.

The common treatment for sleep apnea is a continuous positive airway pressure device, or CPAP, that is worn during sleep and forces air into the lungs to prevent breathing pauses. But long-term adherence to the device is poor and many patients simply stop using it.

Researchers investigated the effect of dronabinol, a synthetic version of the molecule tetrahydrocannabinol, or Delta-9 THC, which is found in cannabis, on sleep apnea in a Phase 2 clinical trial – the largest and longest randomized, controlled trial to test a drug to treat sleep apnea. The drug was approved by the Food and Drug Administration more than 25 years ago to treat nausea and vomiting in chemotherapy patients.

Their findings were published recently in the journal Sleep.

“There is a tremendous need for effective, new treatments in obstructive sleep apnea,” said study co-lead David Carley, Katherine M. Minnich Endowed Professor Emeritus of biobehavioral health sciences, medicine and bioengineering at the University of Illinois at Chicago and co-lead author on the paper.

The drug treatment reflects the idea that sleep apnea is not just a physical problem but may be caused by multiple factors, including poor regulation of the upper airway muscles by the brain, said co-lead author Dr. Phyllis Zee, the Benjamin and Virginia T. Boshes Professor of Neurology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and director of the Northwestern Medicine Sleep Disorders Center.

“The CPAP device targets the physical problem but not the cause,” Zee said. “The drug targets the brain and nerves that regulate the upper airway muscles. It alters the neurotransmitters from the brain that communicate with the muscles. Better understanding of this will help us develop more effective and personalized treatments for sleep apnea.”

Some patients refuse to use the CPAP breathing machine, Carley said. Even people who want to use it often only stick with it for about four hours a night, on average.

“So, the best they get is a roughly 50 percent improvement in their apnea. So far, it’s an impenetrable problem,” Carley said. “When people take a pill to treat apnea, they are treated for the entire night.”

Carley developed the idea that dronabinol might be useful in treating sleep apnea more than 15 years ago. He and colleagues tested the concept in an animal model of apnea, publishing their findings in the journal SLEEP in 2002 and launched a subsequent pilot study in humans in 2007. Encouraging findings from the small-scale pilot study formed the basis for this multi-center clinical trial led by Carley and Zee.

In the current study, 73 adult patients with moderate or severe sleep apnea were divided into three groups. One group was given a low dose of dronabinol, a second group received a higher dose, and the third, a placebo. Participants took the drug once daily before bed for six weeks.

Six weeks of treatment by the highest dose of dronabinol (10 milligrams) was associated with a lower frequency of apneas or hypopneas (very shallow breathing) during sleep, decreased subjective sleepiness and greater overall treatment satisfaction compared to the placebo group. Ten milligrams of dronabinol was about 33 percent as effective in treating sleep apnea as all-night use of CPAP, but total compliance with CPAP is extremely rare, Carley explained.

But can a person simply ingest or smoke marijuana and get the same benefits for sleep apnea?

No, said Zee. “Different types of cannabis have different ingredients,” she noted. “The active ingredient may not be exactly the same as what’s indicated for sleep apnea.”

“Cannabis contains dozens of active ingredients, but we tested just purified Delta-9 THC,” added Carley.

Larger scale clinical trials are needed to clarify the best approach to cannabinoid therapy in obstructive sleep apnea, the researchers said.

UIC has licensed intellectual property related to the experimental drug treatment used in the study to the pharmaceutical company RespireRx.

Researchers have attempted to identify drugs to treat sleep apnea for nearly 35 years, but to no avail, Carley explained.

“By providing a path toward the first viable obstructive sleep apnea drug, our studies could have a major impact on clinical practice,” he said.


Explore further:
Anti-nausea drug could help treat sleep apnea

More information:
David W Carley et al. Pharmacotherapy of Apnea by Cannabimimetic Enhancement, the PACE Clinical Trial: Effects of Dronabinol in Obstructive Sleep Apnea, Sleep (2017). DOI: 10.1093/sleep/zsx184

Journal reference:
Sleep

Provided by:
University of Illinois at Chicago

Tagged with:

About author

Related Articles