Cannabis kills brain cancer cells in petri dishes so Australian researchers are embarking on a clinical trial to determine if it kills those cells in live patients too.
Up to 82 patients suffering from glioma, an aggressive form of brain tumor, will be selected to take high THC medicinal cannabis orally for three months, while still undergoing standard treatment.
It's hoped the cannabis will not only slow the growth of tumors and improve patients' quality of life, but actually kill the cancer cells and prevent a re-occurrence.
The tumors are difficult to treat, in part because they on average contain 100 different types of cancer cells, says neurosurgeon and trial key investigator Michael Sughrue.
"We know our drugs work on some, but not all of them. So we need more bullets in our gun essentially," he told the AAP on Monday.
Dr Sughrue was skeptical of cannabis as a treatment, until a close friend abated a glioma, seemingly through the drug.
He says patients are lining up to be in the trial, run by the Endeavour College of Natural Health.
One is Lyn Boyle, 59, despite being "dead against" marijuana for all her life. Diagnosed with a glioma in 2013, she says this is her last resort.
The standard treatment reduced the size of her tumor but it's now growing back with a "vengence".
"As I get closer to my mortality, I get more desperate," she says.
She knows a breakthrough may not come in time for her, but hopes it will come for other sufferers.
As one of the few medically advanced countries in which medicinal cannabis is legal across the board, Australia is uniquely placed to change the lives of glioma sufferers around the world lead researcher Janet Schloss says.
"I deal with people suffering with cancer on a regular basis, and I see the loss of hope. This trial means the world - not just for me, but for patients," says Dr Schloss.
Internationally renowned Australian neurosurgeon and former Australian of the Year, Professor Charlie Teo, will lead efforts, alongside Dr Sughrue, to find patients for the trial.
The trial is funded by BioCeuticals, Australia's leading provider of nutritional and therapeutic supplements.
Australian Associated Press