Victoria’s ARC MedAg Hub Officially Launched

Medical agriculture research
Image: ARC MedAg Hub

A major medicinal agriculture research hub with a special focus on medical cannabis was officially launched in the Australian state of Victoria last week.

Situated at La Trobe University, the facility seeks to optimise production of active components in medicinal plants and identify their potential mode of action in various diseases.

“We need to better understand which cannabis extract components are active in reducing clinical symptoms of disease,” said Hub Director, Professor Tony Bacic. “We also need to understand factors leading to better production outcomes for key active components of medicinal cannabis.”

The Australian Research Council Industry Transformation Research Hub for Medicinal Agriculture, or ARC MedAg Hub for short, includes among its industry partners medical cannabis company Cann Group Limited (ASX: CAN), which is working with the facility in the study of how active components of cannabis plants respond under various environmental conditions

Victorian Minister for Education Dan Tehan officially opened ARC MedAg Hub last Friday.

“Research conducted here will assist primary producers and manufacturers to use the latest technologies to optimise their production as well as help train the specialised workforce needed to underpin Australia’s developing medicinal agriculture industry,” said Minister Tehan.

The  $24+ million initiative, which was originally established in 2018, has been financially supported by $5 million from the Australian Research Council, and from industry and university funds.

A high profile research partner in the venture is the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Research Institute (ONJCRI), which is working with ARC MedAg Hub to identify constituents of cannabis oil demonstrating anti-cancer activity in breast cancer cell cultures. Olivia Newton-John is a staunch supporter of medical cannabis and last year said it should be available to all Australian cancer patients, and to those enduring any type of disease that causes pain. Ms. Newton-John has been using medical cannabis for some time to treat her own condition.

Other partners in ARC MedAg Hub include:

  • The University of Melbourne
  • Bioplatforms Australia Ltd (BPA)
  • HEXIMA LTD
  • Photon Systems Instruments (PSI)
  • Palo Alto Research Center Inc.
  • SensaData Pty Ltd
  • Under the Tree (UTT) Biopharmaceuticals Pty Ltd

Further information on ARC MedAg Hub can be found here.