Epilepsy's Big Fat Miracle," focused on the high-fat ketogenic diet; Fred's son Sam, who was nine years old at the time, had once been buffeted by hundreds of absence seizures a day. Medications weren't helping. The ketogenic diet, described by Vogelstein as a "desperate" treatment, seemed to work. He was only having about six seizures a day. Sam was finally "a happy, healthy, and independent kid," Fred wrote. Hence the Big Fat Miracle; Sam's life was back on track.
In the July 2015 issue of WIRED, though, Sam and Fred are back on the therapy trail in a piece titled "One Man's Desperate Quest to Cure His Son's Epilepsy--With Weed." Between the two features, Sam's seizures returned again. With a vengeance. This time, having tried everything else, they head off to London, in 2012, to try another desperate treatment: this one is an extract of the marijuana plant known as cannabidiol, or CBD. The compelling piece is largely about the hoops the Vogelsteins have to go through to try the compound at all.
"It had taken four months of phone calls, emails, and meetings with
doctors and pharmaceutical company executives on two continents to get
permission to try this drug," writes Fred. "Sam wasn’t joining an ongoing clinical
trial. The company made the pills just for him" By the time the Vogelstein's win approval from the DEA to import CBD into the US, they have spent more than $120,000 of their own money on the effort. Their expense and efforts seem to have paid off. Both for Sam, whose seizures are again under control, and for many others who still suffer from medication-resistant epilepsy in the US. Sam's story seems to have helped pave the way for several sizable studies of CBD in major US research centers. A CBD-based drug made by the British company GW Pharmaceuticals may be on the shelves less than three years from now.