In collaboration with medical oncologists A/Prof Helen Wheeler, Associate Professor Nick Pavlakis and Professor Stephen Clarke, our research investigates the use of cannabis derivatives, known as cannabinoids, as new therapies to combat cancer.

The cannabis plant contains more than 400 different molecules, of which approximately 100 of these are cannabinoids. Cannabinoids are a large class of diverse compounds that act on the cannabinoid receptors in our bodies. The two main cannabinoids found to have therapeutic benefit are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). These compounds are already approved in some countries for the treatment of chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting and pain relief. It has recently been shown that these compounds also display anti-cancer properties. Our research examines the medical applications of individual cannabinoids for cancer treatment.

July 2016- Cannabis was legalised in NSW for for adults with end-of-life illnesses

Evidence shows cannabis can alleviate some of the symptoms associated with cancer

85% of Australians now favour the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes

Cannabis Project Leaders: Dr Amanda Hudson and Dr Emily Colvin

Dr Hudson is a Post-doctoral Research Fellow whose research achievements have been recognised by receiving a Brain Cancer Group Fellowship. Her expertise is in molecular biology, with a major focus of her research being on investigating why brain cancer changes over time and why treatment resistance develops. Her work is contributing to identifying new treatments and treatment strategies for improving the survival and quality of life of those people living with brain cancer.

Dr Colvin is the inaugural Proud Family Fellow and a Cancer Institute NSW Early Career Fellow. She is experienced in the development of novel preclinical models of cancer and identifying potential prognostic biomarkers in cancer. Her current research interests are investigating the role of the tumour microenvironment in ovarian cancer and evaluating the effectiveness of new cancer treatments.


1. Improved treatment for mesothelioma and pancreatic cancer: Can cannabinoids address this unmet need?

Dr Emily Colvin, Dr Amanda Hudson, Ms Ramya Kumar, A/Prof Viive Howell, A/Prof Jonathon Arnold, Prof Iain Macgregor, Dr Lyndsey Anderson

This project examines the anticancer effects of cannabinoids in preclinical models of mesothelioma and pancreatic cancer. We are testing cannabinoids alone, in combination with full spectrum cannabis extracts, and the current standard of care treatments for synergism and efficacy.

This is a collaboration between the Lambert Initiative for Cannabinoid Therapeutics at the University of Sydney; the Kolling Institute; and Royal North Shore Hospital.

Funding: Lambert Initiative for Cannabinoid Therapeutics

2. New Horizons: Therapeutic applications for medicinal cannabis in the treatment of brain cancer

Dr Matt Dunn, Dr Kelly McKelvey, Dr Adjanie Patabendige, Dr Ameha Woldu, Dr Mengna Chi, Dr Craig Gedye

Brain cancer, in particular high-grade gliomas (HGG), are the leading cause of cancer death in children and adolescents and account for 60-70% of all primary brain and central nervous system cancers in adults. Patients diagnosis with a HGG face a dismal prognosis with an estimated 5-year overall survival rate of 2-3%. In partnership with the Australian Natural Therapeutic Group (ANTG) this project will determine anti-brain cancer efficacy of cannabis in combination with established treatments, namely radiotherapy.

Funding: HMRI Cancer and Medicinal Cannabis Research Project Grant

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