What’s The Difference Between Covid-19 Coronavirus Vaccines

Coronavirus COVID-19 single dose small vials and multi dose in scientist hands concept. Research for new novel corona virus immunization drug.

The world can’t return to normal without safe and effective vaccines against the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus along with a coordinated global vaccination programme.

Researchers have been racing to develop potential drugs that could help end the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. There are currently around 200 vaccine candidates and about a quarter passed preclinical tests and are now undergoing clinical trials.

What’s the difference between the various candidate vaccines?

A pie chart of candidates can be cut several ways. One is to slice it into six uneven pieces according to the technology (or ‘platform’) that’s used to produce the drug. Those six technologies can be grouped into three broader categories: dead or disabled viruses, artificial vectors, and viral components.

Dead or disabled viruses

Traditional vaccines contain a dead or disabled virus, designed to be incapable of causing severe disease while also provoking an immune response that provides protection against the live virus.

1. Live-attenuated viruses

Attenuated means ‘weakened’. Weakening a live virus typically involves reducing its virulence — capacity to cause disease — or ability to replicate through genetic engineering. The virus still infects cells and causes mild symptoms.

For a live-attenuated virus, an obvious safety concern is that the virus might gain genetic changes that enable it to revert back to the more virulent strain. Another worry is that a mistake during manufacturing could produce a defective vaccine and cause a disease outbreak, which once happened with a polio vaccine. MORE FOR YOUJapan Has Opened Hayabusa2’s Capsule, Confirming It Contains Samples From Asteroid RyuguDonald Trump’s Presidency Will End On The Day Of A Comet, A Meteor Shower And A Total Eclipse Of The SunIn A New Epidemiological Study, Daily Doses Of Glucosamine/Chondroitin Are Linked To Lower All-Cause Mortality

But using a live-attenuated virus has one huge benefit: vaccination resembles natural infection, which usually leads to robust immune responses and a memory of the virus’ antigens that can last for many years.

Live-attenuated vaccines based on SARS-CoV-2 are still undergoing preclinical testing, developed by start-up Codagenix and the Serum Institute of India.

2. Inactivated viruses

Inactivated means ‘dead’ (‘inactivated’ is used because some scientists don’t consider viruses to be alive). The virus will be the one you want to create a vaccine against, such as SARS-CoV-2, which is usually killed with chemicals.

Two Chinese firms have developed vaccines that are being tested for safety and effectiveness in large-scale Phase III clinical trials: ‘CoronaVac’ (previously ‘PiCoVacc’) from Sinovac Biotech and ‘New Crown COVID-19’ from Sinopharm. Both drugs contain inactivated virus, didn’t cause serious adverse side-effects and prompted the immune system to produce antibodies against SARS-CoV-2.

Sinopharm’s experimental vaccine has reportedly been administered to hundreds of thousands of people in China, and both drugs are now being trialled in countries across Asia, South America and the Middle East.

COVID-19 vaccine landscape (left) and platforms for SARS-CoV-2 vaccine development (right)
The global COVID-19 vaccine landscape (left) and Vaccine platforms used for SARS-CoV-2 vaccine … [+] Springer

Artificial vectors

Another conventional approach in vaccine design is to artificially create a vehicle or ‘vector’ that can deliver specific parts of a virus to the adaptive immune system, which then learns to target those parts and provides protection.

That immunity is achieved by exposing your body to a molecule that prompts the system to generate antibodies, an antigen, which becomes the target of an immune response. SARS-CoV-2 vaccines aim to target the spike protein on the surface of coronavirus particles — the proteins that allows the virus to invade a cell.

3. Recombinant viruses

A recombinant virus is a vector that combines the target antigen from one virus with the ‘backbone’ from another — unrelated — virus. For SARS-CoV-2, the most common strategy is to put coronavirus spike proteins on an adenovirus backbone.

Recombinant viruses are a double-edged sword: they behave like live-attenuated viruses, so a recombinant vaccine comes with the potential benefits of provoking a robust response from the immune system but also potential costs from causing an artificial infection that might lead to severe symptoms.

A recombinant vaccine might not provoke an adequate immune response in people who have previously been exposed to adenoviruses that infect humans (some cause the common cold), which includes one candidate developed by CanSino Biologics in China and ‘Sputnik V’ from Russia’s Gamaleya National Research Centre — both of which are in Phase III clinical trials and are licensed for use in the military.

To maximize the chance of provoking immune responses, some vaccines are built upon viruses from other species, so humans will have no pre-existing immunity. The most high-profile candidate is ‘AZD1222’, better known as ‘ChAdOx1 nCoV-19’ or simply ‘the Oxford vaccine’ because it was designed by scientists at Oxford University, which will be manufactured by AstraZeneca. AZD1222 is based on a chimpanzee adenovirus and seems to be 70% effective at preventing Covid-19.

Some recombinant viruses can replicate in cells, others cannot — known as being ‘replication-competent’ or ‘replication-incompetent’. One vaccine candidate that contains a replicating virus, developed by pharmaceutical giant Merck, is based on Vesicular Stomatitis Virus (VSV), which infects guinea pigs and other pets.

4. Virus-like particles

A virus-like particle, or VLP, is a structure assembled from viral proteins. It resembles a virus but doesn’t contain the genetic material that would allow the VLP to replicate. For SARS-CoV-2, the VLP obviously includes the spike protein.

One coronavirus-like particle (Co-VLP) vaccine from Medicago has passed Phase I trials to test it’s safe and has entered Phase II to test that it’s effective.

While there are currently few VLPs being developed for Covid-19, the technology is well-established and has been used to produce commercial vaccines against human papillomavirus (HPV) and hepatitis B.

Viral components

All vaccines are ultimately designed to expose the immune system to parts of a virus, not the whole thing, so why not deliver just those parts? That’s the reasoning behind vaccines that only contain spike proteins or spike genes.

5. Proteins

Protein-based vaccines can consist of the full-length spike protein or the key part, the tip of the spike that binds the ACE2 receptor on the surface of a cell — ACE2 is the lock that a coronavirus picks in order to break into the cell.

Manufacturing vaccines containing the protein alone has a practical advantage: researchers don’t have to deal with live coronaviruses, which should be grown inside cells within a biosafety level-3 lab.

A vaccine against only part of the protein — a ‘subunit’ — will be more vulnerable to being rendered useless if random mutations alter the protein, known as ‘antigenic drift‘, but full-length proteins are harder to manufacture. The immune system can recognize either as an antigen.

One candidate vaccine based on protein subunits is ‘NVX-CoV2373’ from Novavax, where the spike subunits are arranged as a rosette structure. It’s similar to a vaccine that’s already been licensed for use, FluBlok, which contains rosettes of protein subunits from the influenza virus.

6. Nucleic acids

Nucleic-acid vaccines contain genetic material, either deoxyribonucleic acid or ribonucleic acid — DNA or RNA. In a coronavirus vaccine, the DNA or RNA carries genetic instructions for producing a spike protein, which is made within cells.

Those spike genes can be carried on rings of DNA called ‘plasmids’, which are easy to manufacture by growing them in bacteria. DNA provokes a relatively weak immune response, however, and can’t simply be injected inside the body — the vaccine must be administered using a special device to force DNA into cells. Four DNA-based candidates are in Phase I or II trials.

The two most famous nucleic-acid vaccines are the drugs being developed by pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, partnered with BioNTech, and Moderna. Pfizer’s ‘BNT162b2’ and Moderna’s ‘mRNA-1273’ both use ‘messenger RNA’ — mRNA — to carry the spike genes and are delivered into cells via a lipid nanoparticle (LNP). The two mRNA vaccines have completed Phase III trials and preliminary results suggests they’re over 90% effective at preventing Covid-19.

As the above examples show, not only there are many potential vaccines but also various approaches. And while some technologies have already provided promising results, it remains to be seen which will actually be able to defeat the virus.

Full coverage and live updates on the CoronavirusFollow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out my website or some of my other work here

JV Chamary

JV Chamary

I’m a science communicator specialising in public engagement and outreach through entertainment, focusing on popular culture. I have a PhD in evolutionary biology and…

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TODAY

Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of Brown University’s School of Public Health, joins the 3rd hour of TODAY to break down the differences between Moderna’s and Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine candidates. He also comments on speculation of another national shutdown and whether families should still get together over Thanksgiving. » Subscribe to TODAY: http://on.today.com/SubscribeToTODAY » Watch the latest from TODAY: http://bit.ly/LatestTODAY About: TODAY brings you the latest headlines and expert tips on money, health and parenting. We wake up every morning to give you and your family all you need to start your day. If it matters to you, it matters to us. We are in the people business. Subscribe to our channel for exclusive TODAY archival footage & our original web series. Connect with TODAY Online! Visit TODAY’s Website: http://on.today.com/ReadTODAY Find TODAY on Facebook: http://on.today.com/LikeTODAY Follow TODAY on Twitter: http://on.today.com/FollowTODAY Follow TODAY on Instagram: http://on.today.com/InstaTODAY Follow TODAY on Pinterest: http://on.today.com/PinTODAY#COVID19Vaccines#AshishJha#TodayShow

What Sustainable Innovation Might Look Like in 2021

The saying “hindsight is 20/20” will take on a new meaning following this year. Without doubt, we are collectively facing some of the biggest challenges the world has seen. The pandemic’s second wave is taking lives and livelihoods across Europe, healthcare systems are collapsing under the strain, and the destructive effects of climate change are being felt across our planet.

There is reason for optimism though: The speed in which a series of promising Covid vaccines have emerged shows what can be achieved when organisations across the globe put their collective weight behind a shared mission. But if we seek to return to how life was before, we have failed not just future generations, but those living today, too.

As we move toward 2021 we are at a crossroads, and if we don’t act now, it might be too late to solve the health and climate emergencies we face. We need to deliver impactful, sustainable, and meaningful innovations. Without them, we will soon run out of road. But what does sustainable innovation look like in 2021 and beyond?

Rethinking innovation.

People are increasingly looking to entrepreneurs to drive the changes the planet needs. Two-thirds of researchers and academics believe tech entrepreneurs will make a bigger contribution to solving social challenges in the years to come than governments in Europe, according to Atomico’s State of European Tech report.

That’s a huge responsibility. But passion, drive, and creativity alone are not enough to make this a reality. To tackle these challenges we need to fundamentally rethink approaches to innovation, business models, and the relationship between entrepreneurs and corporate organizations.

Time and time again, startups and entrepreneurs come undone when they try to scale up their transformative ideas into a sustainable and impactful business model. Why? Because they lack the necessary muscle (in terms of finance and resources) and networks (to navigate legislative and regulatory requirements). 

Corporate enterprises have a lot of the ingredients necessary to drive innovation and deliver real impact. They have the assets, resources, and networks. But they often have the wrong corporate governance structure in place, limited board involvement in the innovation process and are missing the talent needed to not just conceive, but to execute and scale digital business ideas successfully as well. 

Too often, corporate resources are focussed on tools to create innovation, like incubators and accelerators. These are fine for driving new value through product and service innovation, but do not deliver the transformative change and new business models that are needed in 2021 and beyond. 

To achieve this, we need to shift our collective thinking on to which investment types create the right framework for innovations to scale and become sustainable. The true transformative power lies in moving beyond building new products and services, and towards creating new sustainable, impactful and digital business models. It is only by changing the way we innovate that we can begin to tackle the major issues of climate and health.

Corporate Venture Building: A potent solution.

That’s why in 2021, we will see corporations increasingly team up with top entrepreneurs to collaborate and drive a new wave of sustainable innovation. This approach, which enables both parties to harness their relative strengths and create new digital business models is called Corporate Venture Building (CVB).

CVB is a new asset class, designed to tackle the problems that occur in highly regulated and complex markets like health or climate. It helps corporations to effectively rethink and redeploy existing assets and capabilities to fundamentally transform its business model and create long-lasting, positive and impactful change.

That is what CleanTech startup Solytic set out to achieve when it was co-created and scaled together with Swedish multinational energy giant, Vattenfall, using the CVB approach. Solytic puts an end to the waste caused by the inefficiency of solar PV systems and maximizes its overall performance, by combining unused resources with the needs of service providers.

By identifying and eliminating sources of error and optimizing utilization, Solytic increases the efficiency of solar PV systems by up to 30 percent. The benefit it delivers means within two years of its creation, the startup has expanded into 60 countries and has connected over 100,000 solar plants to its AI monitoring platform. 

Solytic has only been able to achieve this scale and impact within the highly regulated energy industry, because it used the CVB model and drew on the resources and knowhow that Vattenfall has been able to provide. Moreover, it has demonstrated that by rethinking innovation and combining the entrepreneurial spirit with the resources and existing assets of an established corporation, creating new digital business models that have a real impact is possible.

For many people, and many reasons, 2020 has been a year to forget. But it’s important we learn from this shared experience, and recognize what can be achieved when we embrace digital technologies and collaborate effectively. In the whole of human history there has never been a more urgent need for sustainable innovation, and by changing our mindset and approach, we can deliver it in 2021, and beyond.

By: Felix Staeritz Entrepreneur Leadership Network VIP

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American Marketing Association

Disposable packaging and items keep the spread of COVID-19 to a minimum. But brands who place eco-friendliness front-and-center are struggling to keep their mission right now. The American Marketing Association’s Steve Heisler and Sarah Steimer break down the process by which companies can maintain their sustainability efforts. Check out our special COVID-19 zine! Marketing News coverage in a bite-sized PDF. Download here: https://www.ama.org/2020/05/04/market…

Billionaire Eric Lefkofsky’s Tempus Raises $200 Million To Bring Personalized Medicine To New Diseases

On the surface, Eric Lefkofsky’s Tempus sounds much like every other AI-powered personalized medicine company. “We try to infuse as much data and technology as we can into the diagnosis itself,” Lefkofsky says, which could be said by the founder of any number of new healthcare companies.. But what makes Tempus different is that it is quickly branching out, moving from a focus on cancer to additional programs including mental health, infectious diseases, cardiology and soon diabetes. “We’re focused on those disease areas that are the most deadly,” Lefkofsky says. 

Now, the billionaire founder has an additional $200 million to reach that goal. The Chicago-based company announced the series G-2 round on Thursday, which includes a massive valuation of $8.1 billion. Lefkofsky, the founder of multiple companies including Groupon, also saw his net worth rise from the financing, from an estimated $3.2 billion to an estimated $4.2 billion.

Tempus is “trying to disrupt a very large industry that is very complex,” Lefkofsky says, “we’ve known it was going to cost a lot of money to see our business model to fruition.” 

In addition to investors Baillie Gifford, Franklin Templeton, Novo Holdings, and funds managed by T. Rowe Price, Lefkofsky, who has invested about $100 million of his own money into the company since inception, also contributed an undisclosed amount to the round. Google also participated as an investor, and Tempus says it will now store its deidentified patient data on Google Cloud. 

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“We are particularly attracted to companies that aim to solve fundamental and complex challenges within life sciences,” says Robert Ghenchev, a senior partner at Novo Holdings. “Tempus is, in many respects, the poster child for the kind of companies we like to support.” 

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Tempus, founded by Lefkofsky in 2015, is one of a new breed of personalized cancer diagnostic companies like Foundation Medicine and Guardant Health. The company’s main source of revenue comes from sequencing the genome of cancer patients’ tumors in order to help doctors decide which treatments would be most effective. “We generate a lot of molecular data about you as a patient,” Lefkofsky says. He estimates that Tempus has the data of about 1 in 3 cancer patients in the United States. 

But billing insurance companies for sequencing isn’t the only way the company makes money. Tempus also offers a service that matches eligible patients to clinical trials, and it licenses  de-identified patient data to other players in the oncology industry. That patient data, which includes images and clinical information, is “super important and valuable,” says Lefkofsky, who adds that such data sharing only occurs if patients consent. 

At first glance, precision oncology seems like a crowded market, but analysts say there is still plenty of room for companies to grow. “We’re just getting started in this market,” says Puneet Souda, a senior research analyst at SVB Leerink, “[and] what comes next is even larger.” Souda estimates that as the personalized oncology market expands from diagnostics to screening, another $30 billion or more will be available for companies to snatch up. And Tempus is already thinking ahead by moving into new therapeutic areas. 

While it’s not leaving cancer behind, Tempus has branched into other areas of precision medicine over the last year, including cardiology and mental health. The company now offers a service for psychiatrists to use a patient’s genetic information to determine the best treatments for major depressive disorder. 

In May, Lefkofsky also pushed the company to use its expertise to fight the coronavirus pandemic. The company now offers PCR tests for Covid-19, and has run over 1 million so far. The company also sequences other respiratory pathogens, such as the flu and soon pneumonia. As with cancer, Tempus will continue to make patient data accessible for others in the field— for a price. “Because we have one of the largest repositories of data in the world,” says Lefkofsky, “[it is imperative] that we make it available to anyone.” 

Lefkofsky plans to use capital from the latest funding round to continue Tempus’ expansion and grow its team. The company has hired about 700 since the start of the pandemic, he says, and currently has about 1,800 employees. He wouldn’t comment on exact figures, but while the company is not yet profitable he says Tempus has reached “significant scale in terms of revenue.” 

And why is he so sure that his company’s massive valuation isn’t over-inflated? “We benefit from two really exciting financial sector trends,” he says: complex genomic profiling and AI-driven health data. Right now, Lefkofsky estimates, about one-third of cancer patients have their tumors sequenced in three years. Soon, he says, that number will increase to two-thirds of patients getting their tumors sequenced multiple times a year. “The space itself is very exciting,” he says, “we think it will grow dramatically.” Follow me on Twitter. Send me a secure tip

Leah Rosenbaum

Leah Rosenbaum

I am the assistant editor of healthcare and science at Forbes. I graduated from UC Berkeley with a Master’s of Journalism and a Master’s of Public Health, with a specialty in infectious disease. Before that, I was at Johns Hopkins University where I double-majored in writing and public health. I’ve written articles for STAT, Vice, Science News, HealthNewsReview and other publications. At Forbes, I cover all aspects of health, from disease outbreaks to biotech startups.

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Eric Lefkofsky

To impact the nearly 1.7 million Americans who will be newly diagnosed with cancer this year, Eric Lefkofsky, co-founder and CEO of Tempus, discusses with Matter CEO Steven Collens how he is applying his disruptive-technology expertise to create an operating system to battle cancer. (November 29, 2016)

For access to live and exclusive video from CNBC subscribe to CNBC PRO: https://cnb.cx/2JdMwO7 » Subscribe to CNBC TV: https://cnb.cx/SubscribeCNBCtelevision » Subscribe to CNBC: https://cnb.cx/SubscribeCNBC » Subscribe to CNBC Classic: https://cnb.cx/SubscribeCNBCclassic Turn to CNBC TV for the latest stock market news and analysis. From market futures to live price updates CNBC is the leader in business news worldwide. Connect with CNBC News Online Get the latest news: http://www.cnbc.com/ Follow CNBC on LinkedIn: https://cnb.cx/LinkedInCNBC Follow CNBC News on Facebook: https://cnb.cx/LikeCNBC Follow CNBC News on Twitter: https://cnb.cx/FollowCNBC Follow CNBC News on Instagram: https://cnb.cx/InstagramCNBC

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Pharmacies Don’t Know How to Dispose of Leftover Opioids and Antibiotics

Today (Dec. 30), a team of researchers from the University of California, San Francisco and the Children’s National Hospital in Washington, D.C., published the results of an investigation into whether or not pharmacy workers could provide accurate information on the disposal of two classes of drugs: opioids and antibiotics. The results are frightening:

The researchers enlisted volunteers to place calls to nearly 900 pharmacies in California, posing as parents with leftover antibiotics and opioids from a “child’s” recent surgery. They asked the pharmacy employees on the line—either pharmacists or pharmacy technicians—how to deal with these unused drugs, and then the researchers compared those answers to the guidelines for correct disposal published by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The found that approximately 43% of pharmacy workers responded accurately on how to deal with antibiotics; just 23% knew what to do with opioids.

Drug disposal is one of those vexing problems where people generally want to do the right thing, but often simply don’t know how. As Hillary Copp, associate professor of urology at UCSF and the senior author of the study noted in a press release, “The FDA has specific instructions on how to dispose of these medications, and the American Pharmacists Association has adopted this as their standard. Yet it’s not being given to the consumer correctly the majority of the time.”

According to the FDA, unused medications should be put (without crushing any pills or capsules) in an “unappealing substance such as dirt, cat litter, or used coffee grounds;” that mixture should then be put into a sealed container like a secure plastic bag before it is thrown out. In addition, all personal information should be scratched out or otherwise destroyed.

Indeed, in 2017, a team of scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey and Environmental Protection Agency published a paper reporting the results of a study of 38 streams across the country. It found 230 human-created drugs and poisons. And there are significant knock-on effects of improper disposable: many of the drugs identified in the 2017 study are known to kill, harm the health of, or change the behavior of fish, insects and other wildlife. This, in turn, can impact the food chain, and eventually harm humans as well.

Antibiotics and opioids, the two drug classes that the Annals of Internal Medicine study looked at, are particularly malevolent when not disposed correctly.

When antibiotics are disseminated widely throughout the environment, it raises the chances of bacteria developing resistance to the drugs. Any bacteria that encounters an antibiotic, whether in the human body, or in a stream or pond, will attempt to survive. Those that do will pass their genes onto future generations of bacteria, fueling a growing global health concern: the World Health Organization has made it clear that antimicrobial resistance in microbes (which includes antibiotic-resistant bacteria), is one of the globes biggest impending public health challenges, given that it could eliminate some of medical science’s most effective tools against disease-causing organisms.

Meanwhile, research into the impacts of opioids on lab animals suggests that they respond to the drugs much like humans: by self-administering over and over, to their detriment. Scientists are still working on understanding how opioids in the waste stream impact animals living in the wild. One thing is for sure: opioids ARE in the global water supply. A 2018 review of the scientific literature found 22 opioids in wastewater and surface water samples from all over the world.

Perhaps the bigger issue with opioids, however, is that those prescribed them tend to keep them around. The results of a survey published in JAMA Internal Medicine in 2016 found that about 60% of Americans prescribed opioids kept their leftover meds for “future use,” and a number of recent studies and investigations have found that these drugs, when either shared with or surreptitiously taken by relatives and acquaintances, can lead to addiction and overdose.

On the flip side, other recent studies have noted that clearer guidance and take-back events can get people to not only get rid of unused opioids, but to do so in a way that’s environmentally sound. Given the ongoing American opioid crisis, any steps to get this class of deadly drugs off the street—and out of medicine cabinets—could be significant. This most recent study suggests that one place to start might be at the point-of-sale: the pharmacy.

By Elijah Wolfson December 30, 2019

Source: Pharmacies Don’t Know How to Dispose of Leftover Opioids and Antibiotics

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According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, addiction to prescription opioid painkillers is real. Of the 21.5 million Americans 12 or older who had a substance use disorder in 2014, 1.9 million had a substance use disorder involving prescription pain pills. Addicts aren’t just the stereotypical shady figures hiding in dark alleys to get a fix. They are average people turning to health care providers for medication that is highly addictive. Mayo Clinic experts agree that an opioid epidemic exists in the U.S. In this Mayo Clinic Minute, reporter Vivien Williams talks to pain medicine specialist Dr. Mike Hooten about the changing face of addiction. More health and medical news on the Mayo Clinic News Network http://newsnetwork.mayoclinic.org/

 

CBD Oil for Parkinson’s Disease

Every year in the United States, approximately 60,000 individuals are newly diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease according to the Parkinson’s Foundation (PF).[1]

The PF adds that, by the year 2020, the number of people living with this medical condition is expected to near one million in total, making it more prevalent than multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, and Lou Gehrig’s disease combined.

What is Parkinson’s disease?

The American Parkinson Disease Association (APDA) defines Parkinson’s as “a type of movement disorder that can affect the ability to perform common, daily activities.”[2]

Unlike other movement disorders, Parkinson’s disease is characterized by a loss of brain cells, specifically those in the substantia nigra region. This lowers dopamine levels which causes issues related to movement regulation, thus impacting the patients’ quality of life.

Parkinson’s disease is both chronic and progressive, making this movement disorder one that is long-lasting, while also worsening as time progresses.

Also, though it typically appears after the age of 50, roughly one in ten Parkinson’s disease patients are diagnosed at a younger age. This is called Early Onset Parkinson’s.

Symptoms of Parkinson’s tend to vary from person to person and fall into one of two categories: motor symptoms and non-motor symptoms.

The APDA shares that it is the motor symptoms of Parkinson’s that typically make these typical daily movements more difficult, some of which include experiencing tremors, having stiff or rigid muscles, walking difficulties, slowness of movement (also known as bradykinesia), and postural instability.

Another motor symptom Parkinson’s disease patients tend to notice is a change in their voice. Changes in volume are common in the early stages, whereas speaking fast, crowding words, and stuttering are more prevalent in advanced stages of this disease.

Parkinson’s symptoms that don’t involve movement and are therefore sometimes missed, include:

  • Reduced sensitivity to smells
  • Trouble staying asleep
  • Increased depression and anxiety
  • Psychotic symptoms such as hallucinations and delusions
  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss
  • Excessive sweating
  • Difficulty multi-tasking
  • Harder time with organization
  • Constipation
  • Increase in urinary frequency and urgency
  • Lightheadedness
  • Reduced libido
  • Slower blinking and dry eyes

Currently, there is no cure for Parkinson’s. However, patients do have a few treatment options that can help manage this particular medical condition.

One is taking a medication to help better manage motor function. Two well-known options include Levodopa and Carbidopa, both of which can be prescribed in varying strengths and formulations.

Another common Parkinson’s treatment is therapy. For instance, physical therapy may be pursued to aid in walking and occupational therapy can help enhance fine motor skills. Speech therapy may also be required to assist with vocal issues.

Deep brain stimulation is an option as well. Approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) several years ago, this treatment method is a form of surgical therapy in which an electrode is implanted in the brain, then stimulated via a device that is placed in the chest area under the skin.

The APDA further indicates that complementary medicine such as yoga and massage can also provide relief from symptoms of PD as well. Research is also finding that CBD oil can potentially help too.

CBD is short for cannabidiol, a chemical compound found within the cannabis plant that binds to cannabinoid receptors located in the body’s endocannabinoid system.[3]

CBD is different than other cannabinoids found in the marijuana plant that are known for producing the high commonly associated with medical marijuana use. This includes tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and a similar cannabinoid, tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV). Both THC and THCV can produce this high effect, whereas CBD does not.[4]

Additionally, our bodies do produce some cannabinoids on its own. These are called endogenous cannabinoids because they are so similar to cannabis plant compounds. CBD works by mimicking and augmenting these natural cannabinoids, providing a more therapeutic effect.

Admittedly, information in this field is still emerging, primarily because the endocannabinoid system is a relatively new finding due to the first endocannabinoid not being discovered until 1992.[5]

After the second one was identified three years later, researchers began to realize that the human body has an entire endocannabinoid system that offers positive effects related to bone density and diabetes prevention.

Since that time, research has also connected CBD with providing benefits for Parkinson’s disease.

For instance, one 2018 study published by Frontiers in Pharmacology shares that CBD helps by increasing levels of the endocannabinoid anandamide, an agonist of cannabinoid receptors.[6] It is also thought to aid in other processes found helpful for Parkinson’s patients, such as those related to serotonin receptors like 5-HT1A, peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors, and more.

Other studies shared by the National Institute of Health (NIH) have found similar results. Specifically, they indicate that the study of CBD in relation to Parkinson’s disease is especially interesting because of the direct relationship between endocannabinoids, cannabinoid receptors, and the neurons associated with this neurodegenerative disease that impacts the central nervous system.[7]

Another piece of research, this one published in the journal Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research, indicates that many clinical trials have been conducted in this area. [8] Though some have been inconclusive or controversial, others have found that CBD has positive effects on some of Parkinson’s motor symptoms.

One such study looked at 22 patients who engaged in the medical use of cannabis, which contains CBD.[9] In this case, improvements were noted in regard to tremor, rigidity, and bradykinesia 30 minutes after using medical marijuana.

Other pieces of Parkinson’s research have found that CBD can also help relieve non-motor symptoms. For instance, an open-label study—meaning that there is no placebo group, so the subjects know that they’re receiving active treatment—found that, after being taken for four weeks, CBD helped reduce psychotic symptoms.[10]

Another double-blind trial involved 119 Parkinson’s patients who were treated with either 75 mg of CBD per day, 300 mg CBD daily, or a placebo. Although researchers could not establish a statistically significant difference in motor and general symptoms scores, there were significantly different means in relation to their well-being and quality of life.[11]

The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research adds that research in this area is somewhat limited due to governmental regulations, with interpretation of results also impacted due to no standardization of CBD doses or use of products containing CBD and THC combined.[12] Therefore, it can be difficult to determine the specific effect CBD can provide to Parkinson’s patients.

Healthline reports that CBD oil has a number of scientifically-proven benefits that extend beyond those related to Parkinson’s.[13] Among them are:

One of the major concerns patients have with the use of CBD oil is whether or not it is legal. Psychology Today stresses that, while many people think that the passing of the 2018 Farm Bill legalized CBD federally, this isn’t exactly the case.[14]

Instead, the Farm Bill only legalized hemp, which is the fibrous stalk of the marijuana plant. Technically, all other parts of the plant are still illegal under the Controlled Substances Act.

What confuses the issue even more is that each state has set its own statutes regarding hemp, medical marijuana, and CBD. For instance, in New York, patients can smoke cannabis, but they aren’t banned from accessing it as a dried flower. However, if you live in Colorado, not only can individuals use medical cannabis, but children can even legally possess it on school campuses if they have status as a medical cannabis patient.[15]

Because of these variations, it is always recommended that Parkinson’s patients check the legality of cannabis use or CBD oil in their individual states before utilizing this option for treatment purposes.

[1] “Statistics.” Parkinson’s Foundation. https://parkinson.org/Understanding-Parkinsons/Statistics

[2] “What is Parkinson’s Disease?” American Parkinson Disease Association. https://www.apdaparkinson.org/what-is-parkinsons/

[3] “What is CBD?” Project CBD. https://www.projectcbd.org/about/what-is-cbd

[4] Rahn, B. “What is THCV and What Are the Benefits of This Cannabinoid?” Leafly. Feb 03, 2015. https://www.leafly.com/news/cannabis-101/what-is-thcv-and-what-are-the-benefits-of-this-cannabinoid

[5] “A History of Endocannabinoids and Cannabis.” UTT BioPharma. https://www.uttbio.com/a-history-of-endocannabinoids-and-cannabis/

[6] Peres, F.F. et al. “Cannabidiol as a Promising Strategy to Treat and Prevent Movement Disorders?” Frontiers in Pharmacology. May 2018; 9:482. Doi:10.3389/fphar.2018.00482. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5958190/

[7] Fernandez-Ruiz, J et al. “Endocannabinoids and Basal Ganglia Functionality.” Prostaglandins, Leukotrienes and Essential Fatty Acids. Feb-Mar 2002; 66(2-3):257-67. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12052041

[8] Stampanoni Bassi, M et al. “Cannabinoids in Parkinson’s Disease.” Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research. Feb 2017; 2(1):21-29. Doi: 10.1089/can.2017.0002. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5436333/

[9] Lotan, I et al. “Cannabis (medical marijuana) treatment for motor and non-motor symptoms of Parkinson disease: an open-label observational study.” Clinical Neuropharmacology. Mar-Apr 2014; 37(2):41-4. Doi: 10.1097.WNF.0000000000000016. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24614667

[10] Zuardi A.W. et al. “Cannabidiol for the Treatment of Psychosis in Parkinson’s Disease.” Journal of Psychopharmacology. Nov 2009; 23(8):979-83. Doi: 10.1177/0269881108096519. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18801821

[11] Chagas M.H. et al. “Effects of Cannabidiol in the Treatment of Patients with Parkinson’s Disease: An Exploratory Double-Blind Trial.” Journal of Psychopharmacology. Nov 2014; 28(11):1088-98. Doi: 10.1177/0269881114550355. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25237116

[12] Dolhun, R. “Ask the MD: Medical Marijuana and Parkinson’s Disease.” The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research. May 02, 2018. https://www.michaeljfox.org/foundation/news-detail.php?ask-the-md-medical-marijuana-and-parkinson-disease-a

[13] Kubala, J. “7 Benefits and Uses of CBD Oil (Plus Side Effects).” Healthline. Feb 26, 2018. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/cbd-oil-benefits

[14] Pierre, J. “Now that Hemp is Legal, Is Cannabidiol (CBD) Legal Too?” Psychology Today. Jan 02, 2019. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/psych-unseen/201901/now-hemp-is-legal-is-cannabidiol-cbd-legal-too

[15] “Legal Information By State & Federal Law.” Americans for Safe Access. https://www.safeaccessnow.org/state_and_federal_law

Dr. Andrew Colucci

By: Dr. Andrew Colucci

Doctor of Medicine (M.D. cum laude) from Boston University School of Medicine in 2012 – Dr. Colucci is currently a radiologist in MA

Source: CBD Oil for Parkinson’s Disease

19.5K subscribers
Does medical marijuana help Parkinson’s symptoms? Rachel Dolhun, MD, movement disorder specialist and vice president of medical communications at The Michael J. Fox Foundation, answers this and other common questions about medical marijuana and Parkinson’s disease. The “Ask the MD” series is intended as an educational resource for people with Parkinson’s and their loved ones. Please consult with your personal healthcare provider to address individual medical questions. The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research is dedicated to finding a cure for Parkinson’s disease through an aggressively funded research agenda and to ensuring the development of improved therapies for those living with Parkinson’s today. https://www.michaeljfox.org We gratefully acknowledge the Steering Committee members of our Patient Disease Education Consortium in conjunction with The Albert B. Glickman Parkinson’s Disease Education Program and Charles B. Moss Jr. and family, whose sponsorship allows us to create and distribute materials, while preserving our track record of efficiency in stewarding donor-raised contributions for maximum impact on Parkinson’s drug development. Sponsorship support does not influence MJFF’s content perspective or panelist selection. Note: Tap cc in the lower right corner of the player to enable auto-generated captions for the video.
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