Of the 29 Patients in Study, Seven had Anti-Seizure Medication Doses Reduced during Therapy

A team of medical and research experts at The Center for Discovery® (TCFD), led by President, Dr. Terry Hamlin, and Medical Director, Dr. Philip Wilken, along with leading external partners, published a major paper in the latest version of the peer-reviewed journal – Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology.

The paper outlines a two-year study done at TCFD that examines the use of medical marijuana in residents with intractable seizures.  The study team consisted of:  Dr. Terry Hamlin, Dr. Orrin Devinsky (NYU Comprehensive Epilepsy Ctr.), Dr. Philip Wilken,  Dr. George Todd (Mt. Sinai Icahn School of Medicine), Angelica Marmanillo (TCFD Director of Nursing Informatics), Daniel Ryan (TCFD IT Strategic Goal Manager), Conor Anderson (TCFD Director of Biomedical Informatics), and Daniel Friedman (NYU Comprehensive Epilepsy Ctr.)

The team observed data from 29 residents, age 12-46 years, for a period of six to nine months who were prescribed high CBD/low THC formulations of medical marijuana and closely monitored for seizure frequency, duration, recovery duration and the use of rescue medications. CBD is the main non-psychoactive cannabinoid in cannabis, and THC is the main psychoactive one.

After analyzing the data, the team determined that when examined as a group, there were no across the board significant differences in any category: seizure frequency, duration, recovery duration or use of rescue medications. Behavioral disorders and sleep duration were also unchanged.

However, at the individual level, “there was considerable variability in convulsive seizure frequency, with some patients experiencing >50% increases or decreases during their treatment period.  Similarly, seizure duration and postictal durations varied markedly between baseline and treatment periods for select individuals,” said Dr.  Hamlin, “Among those with increased seizure frequency or duration, or postictal dysfunction, all returned to baseline in these metrics after the medical cannabis was reduced.”

“Several individuals saw substantial decreases in seizure frequency, duration and postictal state, with four individuals displaying no seizures at all while on the maximum tolerated dose,” explained Conor Anderson. He added, “Our study – one of the first to assess postictal state duration, rescue medication use, and behavioral changes – should be replicated as these factors can significantly affect quality of life and be determining factors for use of medical cannabis or other therapies in treatment-resistant epilepsy patients.”

In addition, seven of the 29 patients in the study had their anti-seizure medication doses reduced during the medical cannabis therapy and no patient required increases in their anti-seizure medications.  “The potential benefits of decreased anti-seizure medications is this population of highly medically complex patients deserves further study,” Dr. Hamlin said.

“I am very proud of this work done by our growing research team involving a large cohort of very complex individuals who require care and monitoring around-the-clock. Our community is difficult to study. Our success at collaborating with the finest doctors and medical centers, completing this large body of work, and having it published by a major peer-reviewed journal speaks volumes about our potential to become a force of biomedical study, research, publication and development in the near future, particularly at our new Children’s Specialty Hospital which is scheduled to open in early 2023.” said Dr. Hamlin, “We have the unique ability here to learn so much more about individuals with complex conditions and intend to increase the scope of our research in the near future. The Center for Discovery is committed to continuing to advance the standard of care for those with complex conditions in New York State and across the country, and that can only be done through good science and clinical expertise – we are very fortunate to have both at TCFD.”

“This study was a great example of our ability as an organization to conduct highly controlled clinical research, from data collection and storage, and project management, to the analysis of large complex datasets. I am very proud to have contributed to this important research and look forward to much more to come as we look toward the opening of our Research Institute,” Conor Anderson, TCFD’s Director of Biomedical Informatics, said.

Research at The Center for Discovery is made possible by the support of generous donors. For more information about how you can contribute to this transformative work and advance our Research Institute for Brain and Body Health, please contact Michael Rosen, Executive Vice President of Marketing and Strategic Communications, at