The University of Adelaide Gets $1.5M Cannabis Research Grant

A team at the University of Adelaide has received $1.5 million in funding in order to investigate the benefits of medical cannabis use to treat cancer pains.

Hannah Wardill, the winner of the Social Impact award at InDaily's 40 Under 40 for 2020, will be leading a team at the University of Adelaide in order to determine how impactful medicinal cannabis is in providing relief for advanced cancer patients.

The CANnabinoids for CANcer Therapy is named the CANCAN Trial, which is designed to "explor[e] the use of personalised CBD/THC dosing to prevent common and impactful symptoms of treatment in advanced cancer."

Wardill won the InDaily award for her work surrounding cancer patients and will be continuing these efforts in the upcoming medicinal cannabis trial involving 176 South Australians with advanced cancer.

"We hope the CANCAN trial will show that targeting gut distress, due to mucosal injury, with medical cannabis will improve patient wellbeing and maintenance of intended dosing," Wardill said.

"It's also hoped the personalised CBD and THC preparation will prevent and manage clusters of related side effects of cancer therapy including detrimental effects to sleep, appetite, mood, pain, and fatigue."

The University trial is set to begin in 2022 and has received $1.5 million in federal funding via the Medical Research Future Fund.

On her motivations behind assisting cancer patients, Wardill told InDaily that "When people have certain side effects they often have their chemotherapy reduced, they'll take a break for a while or if it gets really bad they'll stop the treatment altogether."

"So we're looking to capture those types of outcomes as well to understand whether medicinal cannabis can alleviate those symptoms to a degree to allow the patient to carry on with their treatment as originally intended.

"By controlling side effects we really do hope the treatment can carry on to the point where the tumor is killed by the chemotherapy, but it is a tricky balancing act."

The cannabis provided in the study will be provided by the Adelaide-based, licensed LeafCann Group, and the form factor used will be determined through speaking with advocacy groups, however, it is likely to be an oral oil according to Wardill.

"We are providing an oral oil that people are able to swish around in their mouth for a few seconds and spit out but these are important points we want to clarify with our focus groups around whether people are interested in taking the product in specific forms but at the moment we're looking at an oral oil," said Wardill.

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Louis O'Neill
Louis O'Neill

Louis is a writer based in Sydney with a focus on social and political issues. Having interviewed local politicians and entrepreneurs, Louis now focuses on cannabis culture, legislation & reform.