Tilray, a global leader in medical cannabis research and production, today announced a partnership with the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI-MUHC) in Montreal, one of the world’s premier public academic and research institutions, to study the effects of vaporized cannabis on symptoms associated with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
The Phase II trial will study the efficacy of medical cannabis on breathlessness, and exercise tolerance in symptomatic patients with advanced COPD. Patients with COPD suffer from chronic, progressive lung diseases that obstruct airflow and can cause irreversible lung damage without intervention. The pathophysiological hallmarks of COPD include expiratory flow limitation; pulmonary gas trapping and lung hyperinflation; gas exchange abnormalities; and mucus hypersecretion. These pathophysiological hallmarks are linked to breathlessness, loss of autonomy, and a diminished quality of life. Patients with COPD also often avoid exercise, leading to psychological co-morbidities, such as anxiety and depression, and a decrease in overall health.
COPD is a leading cause of morbidity, mortality, and socioeconomic burden in Canada and around the world. Estimates suggest that approximately 17% of Canadian adults over the age of 40 suffer from COPD. Symptom management is critical for COPD patients to ensure that their condition remains stable and their quality of life is maintained. Nonetheless, an estimated 45-90% of adults with advanced COPD suffer from chronic and disabling physical activity-related breathlessness, despite optimal treatment of their underlying lung disease with existing and approved pharmacotherapies (e.g., bronchodilators, corticosteroids). There is a critical need to develop more effective therapies for COPD.
The research team led by Drs. Dennis Jensen and Jean Bourbeau will conduct the trial at the McConnell Centre for Innovative Medicineof the RI-MUHC. “Adjunct therapies targeted to relieve breathlessness and improved exercise tolerance are needed to enhance health outcomes for adults with advanced COPD, and medical cannabis is a potential therapy of interest,” said Dr. Jensen. Patient recruitment for the trial, which will involve 20 participants, is already underway, and the trial is expected to conclude later this year.
“Tilray is proud to support this important research,” said Dr. Catherine Jacobson, Director of Clinical Research at Tilray. “If we find that vaporized cannabis is safe, well-tolerated, and effective, we can conduct further research to help people with COPD and other medical conditions manage their symptoms effectively.”
Tilray is committed to advancing the science and safety of medical cannabis products by supporting clinical research. The COPD trial is one of several research efforts underway. In Canada, Tilray supports additional clinical trials focused on pediatric epilepsy at SickKids Hospital and post-traumatic stress disorder at the University of British Columbia. In Australia, Tilray has partnered with the University of Sydney and New South Wales Government to study medical cannabis as a treatment for symptoms of chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting.