Government scientists are preparing for the country's first human trials to test cannabis-based medicinal compounds on select diseases like epilepsy and sickle cell anaemia. The Indian Institute of integrative medicine (IIIM) in Jammu has cultivated cannabis for research on a one-acre plot and will formulate the derivative compounds for the trials.
Up till now, morphine, made from poppy has been the most common medicinal pain relievers. India's move towards clinical trials of cannabis-derived compounds comes amid growing evidence of the safety of medicinal cannabis in the treatment of cancer, multiple sclerosis and a severe form of epilepsy. The proposed Tata memorial center trial on cancer will study whether a short course of a cannabis derivative delivered just ahead of cancer surgery might influence the outcome or long-term survival.
The trial is likely to be offered to patients with lung or pancreatic cancers that have relatively low survival rates. This would allow the researchers to pick up the study results faster.