Researchers at the University of Melbourne will receive nearly half a million dollars of government funding for medical cannabis research, the university has announced.
The Australian Research Council Linkage Grant of $466,076 was awarded to Dr Monika Doblin, Professor Tony Bacic, Professor Ian Woodrow and Professor Geoff Stevens and the ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Cell Walls by Minister for Education and Training Simon Birmingham.
Working with UTT Biopharmaceuticals, the researchers aim to develop pilot-scale production of cannabinoids, which have potential in pain relief and relieving symptoms of MS and Parkinson’s disease.
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Professor Bacic said that we have the opportunity to become a global leader in medicinal cannabis cultivation, processing and research thanks to Australia’s strong agricultural sector.
“Cannabis has a long history with its use as a medicine dating back millennia… 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,” he said.
“Working with UTT Biopharmaceuticals we will also be developing a process to extract the small quantities of these medicinal compounds and a procedure to scale up this production.”
Dr Doblin added that legalising medical cannabis in Australia has the potential to create an industry estimated to be worth $100-150 million a year.
“This demand is expected to grow as more clinical trials are completed and new treatments are approved,” she said.
“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.”
Minister Birmingham said “We are backing this project because we can see the clear benefits of having local medicinal cannabis production and a local supply chain for the many patients that stand to gain from the use of medicinal cannabis products.
“Australian families and industry have the most to gain from better collaboration between universities and businesses and this project at the University of Melbourne is one of many we’ve announced funding for across the country since the start of our Linkage Projects program this year.”