By Derrick Stanley
Researchers at the University of Canberra (UC) in Australia are starting a new research project aimed at producing a cannabis-based combination therapy treatment for melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer.
International medical cannabis producer Cann Pharmaceutical signed a $1 million deal with the University to provide medical-grade cannabis for clinical trials on melanoma patients, a recent release stated.
The two-year research project will be led by UC professor of molecular and cellular biology Sudha Rao.
Existing research suggests several compounds in marijuana have the ability to ”switch off” uncontrolled skin cell growth, a major factor in the development and progression of skin cancer.
“Australians have the highest rate of melanoma in the world, with estimates of more than 13,000 new cases to be diagnosed in 2016 alone,” Rao said. “When you consider that melanoma is the third most common cancer in Australia and New Zealand, and almost 1,800 people will die as a result of this cancer this year, we need to work harder at finding effective treatments.”
Medical cannabis will be administered to melanoma patients along with standard chemotherapy. Scientists will monitor how melanoma stem cells respond to treatment with marijuana. Clinical trials are expected to begin in 2017.