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16 Feb 2023

Global study into schizophrenia and psychosis at SANE research centre

We are thrilled to announce that The Prince of Wales International Centre for SANE Research (POWIC) is the hub for a major international study investigating the use of cannabidiol (CBD) to treat people with psychosis and schizophrenia.

The clinical trials at our centre in Oxford will investigate the effectiveness of CBD in treating people at different stages of psychotic disorders.

Flagship of hope - The Prince of Wales International Centre for SANE research

Flagship of Hope – The Prince of Wales International Centre for SANE Research

The study is made possible thanks to a £16.5 million grant from the Wellcome Trust to the University of Oxford.

The STEP Programme (Stratification & Treatment in Early Psychosis) is being led by Professor Philip McGuire and involves 1,000 participants in 35 centres, mainly in Europe and North America.

‘Promising new treatments’

Professor McGuire, a leading researcher into schizophrenia and Professor of Psychiatry at Oxford, said: “We are delighted to be able to work in this inspirational building on what looks to be one of the most promising new treatments to date for schizophrenia.

“We will be carrying out trials at different stages; early intervention for people who may be at risk, people who have experienced a past episode and those who are treatment-resistant and have not responded to other medications or interventions. Cannabidiol has the advantage of being effective and well tolerated with fewer side-effects.”

‘Important study’

Marjorie Wallace CBE, founder and chief executive of SANE, said: “We’re thrilled that POWIC is the hub for such an important study.

King Charles III and Marjorie Wallace at the opening of POWIC in 2003

King Charles III and SANE CEO Marjorie Wallace at the opening of POWIC in 2003

“The vision of the centre, which was opened 20 years ago by King Charles III, is to be a ‘flagship of hope’ for patients, families and researchers.

“Unlike in other areas there have been no significant breakthroughs in the treatment of psychotic disorders since the development of antipsychotic drugs 70 years ago.

“We hope that these clinical trials will open new frontiers in treating schizophrenia and find means to prevent suffering and save generations to come from this tormenting illness.

Marjorie Wallace CBE, SANE founder and chief executive

“There is a desperate need for research to better understand why some people are more vulnerable than others, so that treatment can be specifically targeted with the potential to avert the onset in those at high risk of developing this devastating disorder which can affect one in a hundred people.”

The CBD being used is extracted from the cannabis plant and constituents with adverse psychoactive effects are removed. It is the same form as that licensed and used to treat seizures for some conditions in children. Jazz Pharmaceuticals is supplying the CBD at no cost.

The study is due to start later this year.

Further reading:

Major trials to test effectiveness of cannabidiol on psychosis

Is CBD the future of antipsychotic drugs?

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