Half of all people with spinal cord injury (SCI) will develop chronic neuropathic pain—just one of the unseen effects that can be debilitating for the person with an injury.
A clinical trial, funded through the $15m NSW Government grants offered as a result of SpinalCure’s call for funding of spinal cord injury research, is focusing on this issue and is now looking for participants (see details and eligibility requirements below).
Run by one of the successful grant recipients, Professor Luke Henderson from the University of Sydney, the trial will examine if cannabidiol (CBD), the non-intoxicating derivative of cannabis, is effective in treating chronic neuropathic pain following spinal cord injury.
Current treatments for this pain have proven to be largely ineffective and many have significant side-effects that further exacerbate the condition, so this study aims to see if CBD can help.
“I can personally attest to the impact of neuropathic pain on life quality and will be looking forward to the results of the study.”
Duncan Wallace, Executive Director, SpinalCure
The trial will be gold-standard: a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled crossover trial—which means participants will have the different treatments (CBD and placebo) in turn. Using a placebo in one group helps us to be confident that the effects we measure in the other group really are due to the CBD.
“We will be able to explore for the first time, the effects of CBD on brain function in chronic pain and our ability to determine the relationship between changes in pain and brain structure and function associated with CBD.”
Professor Luke Henderson, University of Sydney
Aims of the study
- Increase understanding of the causes of spinal cord injury pain, with a focus on changes in the functioning of specialised brain cells (astrocytes) in causing the pain. The investigators will use modern brain imaging techniques to determine the underlying brain changes responsible for spinal cord injury pain.
- Identify a biomarker in brain activity that will predict whether an individual will respond to CBD treatment.
- Ease the suffering of people with SCI who experience chronic pain, saving time and reducing cost.
Desired outcomes of the study
- In the short term, the study will discover whether CBD can reduce pain in individuals with SCI induced neuropathic pain, which will directly affect healthcare delivery.
- In the medium term, the study aims to find out what causes neuropathic pain, which will underpin the development of treatments to cure SCI pain and potentially many other chronic pain conditions.
- The ultimate goal of the research is to find an effective cure for chronic pain amongst SCI patients.
Can I take part in the study?
Individuals who have experienced a spinal cord injury are invited to help study the impact of this potential therapy.
You may be able to take part in this study if you:
- Are over 18 years
- Have a spinal cord injury
- Do have ongoing neuropathic or nerve pain
- Are willing to provide a small blood sample
- Are willing to be exposed to brief painful stimulus
- Are willing to attend the NeuRA facility to undergo an MRI and EEG
If you are interested in assisting with this important and exciting area of research, please contact the study facilitator: