Research will soon get under way to determine if high THC medicinal cannabis can benefit patients with glioma – a particularly nasty form of brain tumour.
Said to be a world-first, the trial will be led by researchers at Endeavour College of Natural Health in Australia and supported by neurosurgeon and former Australian Of The Year, Professor Charlie Teo, who will act in the capacity of Associate Investigator.
The research, which already has ethics approval and the green light from the NSW Ministry of Health, will focus on tolerability of the cannabis when used alongside standard cancer treatment; also gauging its impact on tumour growth and whether it can improve quality of life for patients.
Glioma is an aggressive type brain tumour that often doesn’t respond to surgery, chemotherapy or radiation therapy.
“This resistance means it’s vital for researchers to develop new therapies to treat this disease, which is one of the reasons why the clinical trial is important,” says lead researcher Dr Janet Schloss.
Only half of patients survive for 15 months after diagnosis and less than 5% of patients are still alive after 5 years. Median survival time is just one year.
One of the most common types of brain tumour, there are various forms of glioma and the main risk factors are age, family history and exposure to ionising radiation. Approximately 1,000 Australians are diagnosed with glioma each year.
Participating patients will be administered the medicinal cannabis preparation in liquid form over three months, and MRI’s, blood and other testing will be carried out to monitor their progress. The team will then follow-up with patients for up to two years after the trial has been completed.
Patients will be selected from among Professor Teo’s cases and others who meet inclusion criteria for the trial.
Dr Schloss is hoping results of the trial will be useful in informing policy changes and providing medical guidance.
“If we can establish dosage guidelines and understand whether medicinal cannabis can assist standard treatment, this could be life-changing for glioma patients and their families,” said Dr. Schloss.
Funding for the trial is being provided by BioCeuticals.
On a related note, University of Nottingham in the UK announced last year its intention to study the potential of the cannabinoid cannabidiol (CBD) in treating children with brain tumours.