A country with the highest rates of skin cancer in the world is beginning to explore using cannabis to treat melanoma. Researchers at the University of Canberra of the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) will soon be collaborating with a pharmaceutical company to test medical marijuana as a melanoma treatment.
There are nearly 55,000 Australians currently living with skin cancer, that can benefit from this research. As noted, Australia has the highest rates of skin cancer in the world; molecular and cellular biology professor Sudha Rao says that she estimates over 13,000 new diagnoses in 2016 alone, and nearly 1,800 people will die this year as a result of skin cancer this year. Therefore it is obvious that we need to be working harder at finding skin cancer treatments – we at least owe it to these 55,000 just in Australia, alone.
Professor Rao, will be one of the researchers on this project. She has previously worked on preventing the recurrence of breast cancer and other aggressive cancers, but has since turned her attention to melanoma, because of how many people it is affecting.
Medical cannabis could provide a treatment for the actual melanoma, itself. Worst case scenario, it can provide patients comfort from the effects of cancer and chemotherapy.
The University of Canberra just announced a $1 million deal with an Israel-based pharmaceutical company, called Cann Pharmaceutical, who will provide specific strains of medical-grade cannabis. These strains will be administered to melanoma patients – in addition to their current standard care and treatments for melanoma.
The cannabinoids will be administered to patients along with chemotherapy. Following this, researchers will monitor the impact on the melanoma stem cells of the patients.
First things first, the strains of medical marijuana will need to be developed by Cann Pharmaceuticals – after all, the cannabis is essential to the research. The trials should begin in Australia’s capital of Canberra next year.