Pot shot: Newcastle's Calvary Mater Hospital will begin a clinical trial on the effectiveness of medicinal cannabis on appetite in cancer patients from January.
NEWCASTLE’S Calvary Mater Hospital will be involved in a world-first clinical trial into the effects of medicinal cannabis on the appetites of cancer patients.
Researchers are recruiting palliative care cancer patients in Sydney and Newcastle for the trial of vapourised cannabis flower buds.
Professor Richard Chye, director of the Sacred Heart Palliative Care Service at St Vincent’s Hospital Sydney, said they were seeking 30 trial participants with advanced cancer who had lost their appetite.
The first stage of the “very complex” trial was due to begin in January.
“A lot of the trials around use a combination of CBD and THC, which is only two molecules of the 200-odd found in cannabis,” he said.
“This is the first trial I am aware of that uses raw cannabis, rather than an extract, and therefore will test a lot more molecules than just the two that everybody knows about.”
The initial stage of the trial would help researchers at St Vincent’s and Calvary Mater Hospitals begin to understand the logistics of using vapourised cannabis.
“It will help us to work out how to use it, how often it should be used, and what dose should be used,” Professor Chye said.
“This trial will help us better understand the drug, and the side effects to be expected.”
Professor Chye said when cancer patients lost their appetite, they lost weight and muscle mass.
With that came a loss of vitality and energy.
If this clinical trial could help researchers identify a way to improve appetite and nutrition, and reduce weight loss, cancer patients would have a better quality of life.
“When they don’t have the same strength as before, it makes it difficult for them to enjoy life,” Professor Chye said.
“But more importantly, it makes it difficult for them to tolerate the side effects of treatments such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
“We are excited because we are at the leading edge of this type of research, it has never been done before and we’re excited to start the journey towards answering those questions.”