New cannabis gel hailed as a game-changer for children with severe epilepsy

There's hope a new cannabis gel, could revolutionise treatment for children with severe epilepsy. 

The gel's in an early trial phase, but already results show it can reduce the amount of seizures a patient has by 58 percent in the first six months.

For the Ayson family, epileptic seizures are a scary but real part of life for their daughter Quinn.

"[She has] back-to-back seizures every 40 minutes and we just can't stop them," says Nicola Ayson.

"We've ended up in hospital for three, four weeks at a time trying to get control."

But the new synthetic cannabis gel is proving to be a game-changer in fighting seizures.

For Quinn, it's stopped one seizure type completely.

"For us, the biggest benefits have been the cognitive changes that we've seen in her alongside the seizure improvement," says Ayson.

"So in other drugs in the past, we might see better seizure control, but a much poorer quality of life because of the side effects."

Forty-eight children between the ages of three and 16 in Wellington and Melbourne are part of the clinical trial.

The patients are monitored over a four-week period without the gel, compared to six months with it. 

Paediatric neurologist Lynette Sadlier, hopes the results mean the gel can be publicly available in the future.

"Sixty-three percent of them had at least a 50-percent reduction in the number of seizures after about two months," says Sadlier.

And because the gel isn't ingested, there's less diarrhea, less nausea and it's easy to apply.

"These children often have additional problems such as intellectual disability and autism, so sometimes they just don't want to take meds," says Sadlier.

That also means there's less time thinking about seizures and medication, and more quality family time.