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J Neurol Surg A Cent Eur Neurosurg. 2012 Aug;73(4):204-16. Epub 2012 Jun 13.

Early survival of comatose patients after severe traumatic brain injury with the dual cannabinoid CB1/CB2 receptor agonist KN38-7271: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled phase II trial.

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  • 1Klinik für Neurochirurgie, Universitätsklinikum, Otto-von-Guericke-Universität Magdeburg, Magdeburg, Germany.


BACKGROUND AND STUDY OBJECT: Despite many drug trials, no substance has yet been identified that improves the outcome of severe head injury. The dual cannabinoid CB1/CB2 receptor agonist KN38-7271 mediates potent neuroprotection in animal models. We describe here the first randomized, double-blind, prospective, placebo-controlled clinical phase IIa proof-of-concept trial to investigate the safety, pharmacokinetics, and potential efficacy of a cannabinoid receptor agonist in humans.


Out of the 439, 97 comatose patients at 14 European neurosurgical centers met the inclusion criteria. KN38-7271 was administered within 4.5 hours of the injury, and the patients received 1000, 500 μg, or placebo. The primary analysis was pharmacokinetic; efficacy was measured by survival and by neurological improvement or deterioration 7 and 14 days and 1, 3, and 6 months after the injury. Intracranial pressure (ICP) and cerebral perfusion pressure (CPP) were analyzed from start of treatment to end of day 7.


Survival rates within 1 month of the injury were significantly better in the treatment groups than in the placebo group (high-dose, Kaplan-Meier difference on day 30 + 0.12 with p = 0.043; low-dose, difference +0.15 with p = 0.011) but this effect was not seen after 6 months. Critical ICP and CPP were less extreme and less frequent in the treatment group. There were no severe and no serious adverse effects that could be attributed to KN38-7271.


KN38-7271 appeared beneficial in the acute early phase of the comatose patient after a head injury. Its use was safe and well tolerated by patients. These results may provide the basis for further phase II/III trials in larger study populations.

Thieme Medical Publishers 333 Seventh Avenue, New York, NY 10001, USA.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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