Patients with the genetic blistering skin condition epidermolysis bullosa (EB) report severe pain as a consequence of skin and mucous membrane lesions including blisters, wounds, and scars. Adequate symptom alleviation is not often achieved using conventional pharmacologic interventions. Finding novel approaches to pain care in EB is imperative to improve the quality of life of patients living with EB. There are several anecdotal reports on the use of cannabinoid-based medicines (CBMs) by EB patients to reduce the burden of symptoms. However, controlled clinical investigations assessing these reported effects are lacking. As the pain quality "unpleasantness" delineates EB pain, we hypothesize the modulation of affective pain processing in the brain by way of intervention with CBMs comprising the cannabinoids Δ-9-tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol-objectified by functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). The C4EB study is an investigator-initiated, single-centre, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled and crossover trial. Adult patients with the diagnosis epidermolysis bullosa, reporting chronic pain will be eligible to participate. Following baseline measurements, participants will be randomized to receive the sublingually administered interventions placebo and Transvamix® in forward or reversed orders, each for two weeks and separated by a washout. The primary outcome is the difference in numeric rating scale pain scores between grouped interventions, using affective descriptors within the Short-form McGill Pain Questionnaire-2. Secondary outcomes include pain self-efficacy, concomitant analgesic medication-use and adverse events. Additionally, fMRI will be employed to assess brain connectivity related to neuroanatomic pain circuits at baseline, placebo and Transvamix® interventions. The study was approved by the ethical committee at the University Medical Center of Groningen in the Netherlands. Results will be submitted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal. Trial registration number: Netherlands Trial Register: NL9347 (Acronym: C4EB).
Copyright: © 2022 Schräder et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.