Cannabis for cancer treatment on the agenda

Friday, 07 June, 2019

Cannabis for cancer treatment on the agenda

Last week saw the release of two separate stories surrounding medicinal cannabis for cancer treatment, both of which feature an Australian presence.

MGC Pharmaceuticals, a European-based seed-to-pharmacy biopharma company focused on developing and commercialising cannabinoid-derived medicines, has been granted a cannabis research licence in tandem with RMIT University, by the Australian Office of Drug Control (ODC).

The cannabis research licence enables MGC Pharma, with RMIT, to cultivate cannabis for use in research at its state-of-the-art facility in Melbourne. Botanical and preclinical research will focus on the optimisation of breeding and cultivating processes, while extracting material to initially assess the efficacy on prostate, melanoma and other cancer cells.

The issuance follows a binding umbrella agreement signed with RMIT in August 2017, to collaborate exclusively on medicinal cannabis research initiatives in Australia. The agreement consists of two key initial projects:

  1. Establish a world-first library of cannabis medicine where details on medicinal cannabis clinical research, cannabinoids sequences and their treatments can be found.
  2. Investigate the positive effects of medicinal cannabis-derived formulations on several types of cancer and cancer side effects. The cancer research program will initially focus on melanoma treatment, beginning with preclinical trials.

As part of the umbrella agreement, RMIT agreed to dedicate the facility and additional laboratories to the project for a minimum period of five years. MGC Pharma will fund the research, meaning that all IP resulting from the trials will belong to the company, which it will then seek to patent with IP Australia.

“Receiving the cannabis research licence from the Australian Government Office of Drug Control is another major step forward for MGC Pharma as we look to deliver on our seed-to-pharmacy strategy,” said Roby Zomer, founder and Managing Director of MGC Pharma. “The licence enables our strategic alliance with RMIT to advance on its objective to establish a world-first library of cannabis medicines, as well as conducting groundbreaking preclinical research into the positive effects that medicinal cannabis may have on specific cancers.

“We have a proven world-class research team and relationships with multiple academic institutions that have already resulted in the development of successful formulations such as CannEpil, designed to treat drug-resistant epilepsy, and CogniCann, targeting symptoms of dementia. Our aim is to continue to expand our R&D scope to ensure that MGC Pharma is at the forefront of the medicinal cannabis industry and creating solutions to some of the most devastating diseases.”

The news came just one day after Australian medical life sciences company Medlab Clinical announced that it had executed a heads of agreement with Thai pharmaceutical company Mega Lifesciences for the further global distribution of its highly purified CBD/THC blend, NanaBis.

NanaBis is a buccal (side of cheek) spray currently in the second stage of an Australian advanced cancer pain trial, available for use under the Australian Government’s Special Access Scheme and currently before several regulatory agencies for potential fast-track drug approval pathways. The terms of the heads of agreement provide for both parties to negotiate various commercial terms involving potential global territories for NanaBis.

“NanaBis is in an exciting stage of its development as the company looks to fast-track global drug approval pathways,” said Medlab CEO Dr Sean Hall. “This heads of agreement signifies real intent and interest for a true global pharmaceutical company to enter legitimate science as it relates to cannabis that has been research focused into a serious condition: cancer pain.”

The agreement follows a previously announced heads of agreement with Canadian pharmaceutical company Pharmascience.

Image credit: © Studio

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