Pubdate: Thu, 25 Nov 2010
Source: Eastern Daily Press (Norwich, UK)
Copyright: 2010sArchant Regional
Author: Stephen Pullinger


Controversial trials started at Gorleston's James Paget University
Hospital (JPH) into using cannabis for pain relief in MS patients
could lead to exciting new medicinal applications for the humble
plant, it was revealed yesterday.

Speaking at the hospital to an audience of regional health
profess-ionals, William Notcutt outlined the 10-year journey from
those first trials on 200 Norfolk patients to his cannabis-derived
drug Sativex being licensed in the UK for use in treating painful
muscle spasms in multiple sclerosis patients.

And he told them the journey was still continuing, with two new
studies about to start into using extracts from the plant in relieving
cancer pain and controlling a condition -- metabolic syndrome -- which
prevents diabetes patients metabolising fats in their body.

He described winning the battle to have Sativex finally licensed in
the UK this year as an "important watershed" opening up the new
research possibilities.

"It is not just its use in pain relief that is exciting. It is
possible drugs could be developed from cannabis as anti-inflammatories
and even to treat certain types of cancer," he said, highlighting the
fact that people had known about the medicinal properties of the plant
for 5,000 years.

Dr Notcutt was the first speaker at the conference which was called to
highlight the varied research being led by staff at the NHS.

He said: "We have been doing research for a long time but it is much
more high-profile now. Management has thrown its weight behind it and
there is a bigger support staff. Research has become part of the
hospital's core activity."

Conference delegates were also told how the JPH was leading the way in
encouraging research projects by nurses and midwives.

Consultant nurse Katharine Kite said nurses and midwives had the
expertise and experience to contri-bute all kinds of new ideas for
improving patient care.

She said the hospital's Innovations in Nursing and Midwifery Practice
Project (INMPP) had already reaped dividends, one project led by
matron Barry Pinkney significantly improving care for elderly patients
with a broken hip and dramatically cutting their stay in hospital.

Staff nurse Gilli Breij had demonstrated how assessing A&E patients in
the waiting room at an early stage could significantly improve the
diagnosis of serious conditions which might not be obvious.

Other flagship projects highlighted included consultant anaesthetist
Pieter Bothma's work into new applications for intensive oxgyen
therapy in the hospital's hyperbaric chamber.
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