Funding success for new research into medical cannabis

Researchers at the University of Melbourne have been awarded an Australian Research Council Linkage Grant to enhance production of cannabis for medicinal uses.

Working with UTT Biopharmaceuticals, the researchers aim to develop pilot-scale production of therapeutically-active compounds from cannabis, known as cannabinoids. They have potential applications in pain relief, as well as relieving symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis and neurodegenerative conditions such as Parkinson’s disease.

Dr Monika Doblin, Professor Tony Bacic, Professor Ian Woodrow and Professor Geoff Stevens from the University of Melbourne and the ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Cell Walls received of $466,076 for the project, which was announced by Minister for Education and Training Simon Birmingham.

Professor Bacic said that Australia, with its strong history in agricultural science and natural product extraction, has an opportunity to become a global leader in medicinal cannabis cultivation, processing and research.

“The medicinal compounds we are interested in are produced at very low levels by cannabis plants, so the new funding will allow us to better understand which varieties are best for production of therapeutic compounds and which varieties will also grow well in Australian conditions,” Prof Bacic said.

Following the legislation of medical cannabis in Australia, Dr Monika Doblin said an industry worth up to $150 million per annum could be created

“We hope that a competitive domestic medicinal cannabis industry will provide biomedical scientists with the raw materials they need to find the next medical treatment, without the need to obtain medicinal-grade cannabis from overseas,” Dr Doblin said.