QUT To Research Medical Cannabis For Kids With Advanced Cancer

Kids with cancer - cannabis research
Image source: QUT

Australia’s Queensland University of Technology (QUT) has received almost $700,000 to investigate the effectiveness, safe dosage and side-effects associated with THC and CBD.

Around 770 children aged up to 14 years are diagnosed with cancer each in Australia, and sadly approximately 100 children under the age of 15 years die from it annually.

It’s hoped medicinal cannabis can play a role in alleviating children’s suffering in the final stages of their illness.

A 3-year QUT trial will compare different combinations and ratios of cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) to determine which is the more effective in managing symptoms in children with advanced cancer, including lack of appetite and energy, pain, drowsiness, nausea and vomiting. The impact on other areas such as sleep, activity, anxiety and depression will also be measured.

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“This group of children may not have long to live, so their quality of life is really important, and we want to know if this intervention can help them in their last weeks or months of life,” said QUT Adjunct Associate Professor Anthony Herbert, who is leading the trial.

The study marks the first time such an investigation has taken place in Australia involving medicinal cannabis and children with cancer receiving palliative care.  While exploratory in nature rather than a definitive randomised controlled study due to the frailty of the children, it’s envisioned the research will make a significant contribution to the current scant scientific evidence currently available.

Professor Herbert says the clinical trial will be a “win-win” scenario as the kids will have access to the medicine and clinicians will have the opportunity to observe the impacts in a structured and controlled way.

As the potential patient pool in Queensland is quite small, also involved in the research are several universities based in New South Wales and Victoria.

The cash for the trial has come from Australia’s Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF), which is a $20 billion program supporting transforming health and medical research and innovation. Last week we reported $1.5 million from the fund has been earmarked for a University of Adelaide trial exploring investigating medicinal cannabis dosing in cancer patients.