A pair of Australian researchers are getting ready to conduct the world’s first clinical trial to determine if medical cannabis can slow the growth of glioblastoma, a highly aggressive type of brain tumor. There are about 1,000 people diagnosed with glioblastoma each year in Australia alone, with fewer than 5 percent surviving past five years. Horrifically, survival in most cases is less than a year, with some patients passing away in as quickly as six months. But the possibility of medical cannabis treatments are bringing people with the severe brain tumors hope.
Researchers have conducted several animal studies on cannabis and cancer. There have also been some landmark human studies on cannabis and brain tumors. But Brisbane naturopath Dr. Janet Schloss and renowned neurosurgeon Professor Charlie Teo will be the first to study the effectiveness of THC as a companion treatment to standard surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation in patients with glioblastoma.
Australia legalized certain medical cannabis products in 2017, making it legal for doctors to prescribe medical cannabis treatments. But legalization also removed long-standing restrictions on scientific cannabis research. Previously, researchers were only able to conduct trials that studied the side-effects of cannabis use. Now, researchers can conduct clinical trials on the use of cannabis as a medical treatment.
Dr. Janet Schloss, a naturopath and nutritionist with The Endeavour College of Natural Health, and neurosurgeon Charlie Teo are doing just that. They want to determine whether high-potency cannabis oil can aid and assist standard cancer treatments. Their hope is that alongside chemo and radiation therapies, cannabis can help reduce tumor size. But, most importantly for patients with glioblastoma, they’re also hoping THC can help reduce tumor regrowth. Reducing tumor regrowth is essential to increasing survival rates, lifespan and quality of life for people with brain cancer.
Dr. Schloss, speaking with 4BC, cited two key precedents for her and Prof. Teo’s upcoming trial. In Spain, researchers found medicinal cannabis injections reduced tumor size and expanded patient lifespan. Another, smaller study by GM Pharmaceuticals demonstrated “proof of concept” with medical cannabis treatments that reduced tumor size and regrowth.
Dr. Schloss and Prof. Teo are running their clinical trial at the Endeavour College of Natural Health. The study will involve a randomized trial. Every participant will get medical cannabis treatments alongside their standard cancer treatments. Schloss and Teo want to determine to what extent medical cannabis can aid and assist those standard treatments.
Schloss says participants will consume small doses of cannabis oil at night before bed. The 2 mL dose should not contain so much THC that patients have trouble sleeping or wake up groggy the next day. BioCeuticals will the supply the researchers with a cannabis oil it has manufactured specifically for this glioblastoma study.