The initiative was founded following a generous gift by Barry and Joy Lambert to the University of Sydney. We hope to continue to raise further funds, particularly for targeted clinical trials in specific areas of severe need and suffering.
Our existing funding is sufficient to cover the costs of our core research programs in medicinal chemistry, preclinical and cellular research, and some clinical research.
Larger clinical trials are expensive to run and our current budget only allows a very limited number of these to be funded. However, these important tests provide the high-quality evidence that will allow doctors to prescribe medicinal cannabis products with confidence.
We are therefore seeking further funds to launch high quality clinical trials in four areas of urgent need where cannabinoid medicines have clear potential that is yet to be realised. These include:
Despite a great deal of cellular and preclinical research suggesting that cannabinoids can inhibit the growth and spread of cancer cells, there have been no large scale definitive clinical trials examining cannabinoid effects in treating cancer.
Our plan is to work with clinical partners at the Chris O’Brien Lifehouse in Sydney and Olivia Newton John Cancer Research Institute in Melbourne to examine the effects of tetrahydrocannabinol/ cannabidiol preparations in wellbeing, quality of life and tumour progression in advanced cancer.
Some remarkable results have been obtained in animal models showing that CBD can reverse the cognitive impairment observed in mice genetically engineered to express amyloid plaques and other pathological features of human Alzheimer’s disease.
A very recent preclinical study has also suggested that THC can dramatically improve cognition in elderly mice.
We believe that the neuroprotective effects of CBD and THC may act to stall the progression of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.
Small scale human clinical trials are also beginning to suggest that cannabinoids, including THC, may be a useful intervention in reducing agitation and improving quality of life in dementia.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a highly prevalent condition, particularly amongst military veterans and members of the emergency services who have been exposed to traumatic events in their line of work.
Our preclinical and early stage clinical research in PTSD suggests the capacity of cannabinoids to help to extinguish the intrusive fear memories that underlie the disorder.
In addition, some early stage human work suggests disturbances of the endocannabinoid system in PTSD patients.
Cannabinoids may act to reduce trauma, improve quality of sleep, prevent hyperarousal and nightmares, and ameliorate severe anxiety in PTSD patients.
We are currently forming clinical partnerships and seeking funding to run a definitive clinical trial of THC/CBD combinations to treat PTSD, most likely in Australian Defence Force personnel and veterans.
Cerebral palsy is a group of disorders arising from damage to the central nervous system either during pregnancy, or during or shortly after birth. Most commonly it manifests as problems with body movement, posture, coordination and balance, although there can also be problems with intellectual development and speech.
A considerable number of adults and children suffer from symptoms that could respond to treatment with cannabinoids. These include seizures, painful muscular spasms, neuropathic pain, anxiety and insomnia.
The Lambert Initiative is currently working with the Cerebral Palsy Alliance to organise a pilot clinical trial of CBD, with or without small amounts of THC, to treat adults with cerebral palsy. If initial results are promising and sufficient funding can be raised, a much larger clinical trial is planned for 2018-2019.
"The experience of our granddaughter, who suffers debilitating epilepsy, opened our eyes to the extraordinary possibility of cannabinoids, treating not only her condition, but a range of chronic illnesses that often don’t respond to conventional treatments," said Mr Barry Lambert.
"We believe this investment in the future of Australian science and medicine will provide the much-needed evidence to rapidly advance the use of medicinal cannabinoids in the treatment of childhood epilepsy and other serious illnesses," he added.
Our aim is to run novel clinical trials to help optimise and introduce safe and effective cannabinoid therapeutics into mainstream medicine in Australia and beyond.