University partners in medical cannabis trial for chemotherapy patients

26 February 2016

A clinical trial using a new form of cannabis developed by the University of Sydney’s Lambert Initiative will assess the use of the drug to prevent nausea and vomiting in people undergoing chemotherapy.

Barry Lambert announces a $33.7 million donation to establish the Lambert Initiative.

The trial was announced today by NSW Premier Mike Baird and Pru Goward, NSW Minister for Medical Research.

The trial is part of the NSW Government’s $21 million commitment to support medicinal cannabis reforms and will be coordinated at the NHMRC Clinical Trials Centre at the University of Sydney.

The trial is to develop a better understanding of how cannabis products can provide relief to patients undergoing chemotherapy who have not had their symptoms of nausea or vomiting controlled by standard treatments.

The research team will be led by Clinical Associate Professor Peter Grimison from the Chris O`Brien Lifehouse and University of Sydney.

Professor John Simes, director of the Clinical Trials Centre, said: “This new trial will be directed by leading Australian cancer researchers. It will be rigorously conducted and is expected to lead to high-quality evidence on whether medicinal cannabis can improve the quality of life of people being treated for cancer.”

Researchers from the Lambert Initiative and Chris O'Brien Lifehouse have worked closely with Canadian company Tilray in developing an oral medication in capsule form, containing the cannabinoid molecules tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol (THC and CBD).

“Synthetic cannabinoid medications are licensed for this purpose in other countries but this represents a major advance for cannabis-based medications - an oral capsule with reliable doses of cannabinoids extracted from cannabis plants, under pharmaceutical grade conditions,” said Professor Nicholas Lintzeris from the Lambert Initiative, who will be a clinical director of the trial.

“In time, we expect to see an expanded range of cannabis medication options for patients.”   

In its first stage the trial will involve up to 80 patients to assess if the drug can be successfully tolerated and to establish the best dosage. The second stage of the trial will involve more patients and will determine whether cannabis relieves symptoms and improves quality of life.

The trial will commence later this year at Chris O'Brien Lifehouse and other hospitals in NSW. Participants must be over 18 years of age.

The trial will be reviewed by an ethics committee and conducted in accordance with the standard ethical process for clinical trials.

For public enquiries about the trial, please call 1800 217 257.

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