Australian Medical Cannabis Dementia Trial Gearing Up

Medicinal cannabis trial for dementia
Image: geralt

It’s been a long time in the planning and didn’t kick off when originally envisioned, but a trial involving the use of medicinal cannabis in managing dementia looks set to begin.

18 months in the lead-up, the trial is to be carried out at the University of Notre Dame Institute for Health Research in Perth, Western Australia and will be led by Dr Amanda Timler. Dr. Timler will be examining the potential benefits of medical cannabis in modifying the adverse behavioral effects of dementia.

The trial will involve the use of purified medical cannabis extract supplied through partner, MGC Pharma. According to a recent update from the Institute, the crop was grown and oil extracted in Slovenia and was expected to arrive in Australia soon.

The product to be used in the study is MGC’s CogniCann, which contains both THC and CBD and was approved for use by Notre Dame’s Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC) in August last year. The Committee is responsible for ensuring  all research at the institution involving human participants observes State and Federal Government standards and is conducted with the highest possible ethical integrity.

CogniCann was approved for use in the Phase IIb clinical trial testing by Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) early this year.

An initial group of  five individuals with mild dementia will be recruited for the study with other participants to follow later this year. According to PerthNow, the University is actively looking for candidates and apparently, a total 50 patients aged 65 and over will be sought to participate.

Due to improvements in medical care, we’re generally living longer – but this is also giving rise to the incidence of dementia in its various forms. According to the Australian Government’s Health Direct, There are more than 400,000 people in Australia with dementia. Looking ahead, it’s estimated more than 589,000 Australians will be living with dementia by 2028 and over a million by 2058.

Dementia Australia says dementia became the leading cause of death of Australian women in 2016, surpassing heart disease.

As well as the emotional and physical toll, dementia has a hefty financial one – estimated to have cost Australia more than $15 billion in 2018. By 2056, it’s projected the economic impact will be more than $36.8 billion.