Sleep Apnea Synthetic Cannabis Pill Proves Effective.

In Brain Disorders, Brain Science, Sleep, Stroke by Brainy Days Ahead

Obstructive sleep apnea has been safely and effectively treated by a new pill. The disorder causes an interruption in breathing for as briefly as a few seconds to as long as several minutes as often as 30 times or more as hour during sleep. These interruptions increase the risks of heart disease, diabetes, cognitive impairment, and sleepiness during waking hours that leads to accidents. The participants in the large study led by Northwestern University displayed fewer disruptions and better wakefulness. The current common treatment is a CPAP device that inserts air to prevent the airway from collapsing and causing breathing to pause. The new pill tested in the study delivers dronabinol, a synthetic version of a molecule that is in cannabis. Dronabinol was approved by the Food and Drug Administration more than 25 years ago to treat nausea and vomiting in chemotherapy patients. This recent Phase 2 trial of the drug in pill form is a new approach that focuses on addressing poor regulation of the upper airway muscles by the brain rather than the physical problem of collapsing airways. The results are expected to have a major clinical impact on treatment of the disorder.