In June 2018 the FDA approved the drug Epidiolex, the first pharmaceutical drug made from cannabidiol (CBD) and intended to treat two very severe forms of epilepsy. The announcement seemed to add to the growing prominence of CBD—although it remains a Schedule I controlled substance in the U.S. In many health food stores and head shops, you can find CBD in everything from body lotion and bath bombs to chocolate and pet treats. A friend recently reported that she spotted CBD-infused condoms while traveling in Amsterdam. CBD is certainly having its moment. It is purported to calm inflammation, anxiety and pain. But the science on the efficacy of CBD is scant. As Amber Dance reports in “CBD: Hype or Promise?” the number of peer-reviewed studies on the compound barely numbers in the dozens. Which is sobering for an industry expected to grow to nearly $15 billion, by some estimates, in the next five years.
In Japan, deregulation of experimental stem cell treatments may prove harmful to many, as David Cyranoski writes in “Stem Cells 2 Go.” And so-called vaccine hesitancy—the resistance by small clusters of individuals to get their children vaccinated—is spurring new strategies to track and tackle the spread of deadly diseases, as Lynne Peeples describes in “Rethinking Herd Immunity.” As always, enjoy the issue!