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Medical Cannabis Therapy for Melanoma Being Developed at Australian University

Maureen Meehan




The University of Canberra in Australia recently signed a $1 million collaboration with an international pharmaceutical company, Cann Pharmaceutical Australia, to begin medical-grade cannabis therapy trials for melanoma patients.

The two-year research project seeks to produce a combination therapy treatment program for some of the nearly 50,000 Australians living with melanoma.

The trials are widely welcome in Australia, which has the highest rate of melanoma in the world, according to Australia’s Department of Health and Aging.

“When you consider that melanoma is the third most common cancer in Australia and New Zealand, and almost 1,800 people will die as a result of this cancer this year, we need to work harder at finding effective treatments,” said Dr. Sudha Rao, professor of molecular and cellular biology.

The identified strains of cannabis at the center of the research were developed by Cann Pharmaceutical in Israel and will be coupled with the current standard care for melanoma patients.

Rao’s team within the University’s Health Research Institute is already heading innovative research into aggressive cancers, such as breast cancer, while also developing treatments to switch off cancer stem cells and prevent recurrence.

Acting Vice-Chancellor Professor Frances Shannon said the university is excited to be involved in this research and collaboration agreement.

“The support of Cann Pharmaceutical Australia, providing access to their medical-grade cannabis strains and funding worth $1 million, is critical to taking this work from laboratory testing to clinical trials,” Shannon told Melanoma News Today.

200 Percent Increase in Skin Cancer Since 1973

The incidence rate of melanoma has doubled since 1973, with dramatic increases in the United States over the past few decades—15 times in the last 40 years, according to the AIM Melanoma Foundation. This is a more rapid increase than for any other type of cancer.

Why? Indoor and outdoor tanning can be dangerous but, according to Live Science, the proliferation of indoor tanning salons, in which we are exposing our bodies to way too many UV rays year-round, are the main culprit.

From the unsolicited advice department: Use sunscreen and, when the warm summer sun is gone, let your tan fade until next year. Your skin will thank you.