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Jamaica Plans to Establish a Plant-Based Medicine Research Center

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The Jamaican government has announced plans to establish a research center in Jamaica to further advance plant-based medicine research.

Audley Shaw, the Industry, Commerce, Agriculture, and Fisheries Minister, told the Jamaica Information Service (JIS) that Jamaica’s “unique microclimatic conditions place us in an enviable position globally,” noting that 51 of the just over 100 plants known and used for medicines are indigenous to Jamaica.

Those involved in the plans to establish the research center are Dr. Henry Lowe, a noted Jamaican scientist and businessman, Dr. Julius Garvey, the son of Jamaican political activist and orator Marcus Garvey, and Dr. Wilfred Ngwa, the Director at Harvard University Medical School.

Of Dr. Lowe, Shaw noted that he and others “have developed plant-based medicines in Jamaica that are now world-renowned, and are presently submitting more applications for further development of additional plant-based medicines to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of the United States Government.”

The Minister continued by noting a recent Harvard University study which showed that cannabis can potentially be beneficial to pancreatic cancer patients and cited Jamaica’s “unique” history with cannabis and other plant-based medicines. Shaw also stated that 54 licenses have been issued by the Cannabis Licensing Authority (CLA) to cannabis entrepreneurs and that the CLA will be completing export regulations to facilitate the legal export of cannabis raw materials.

CLA Director Delano Seiveright called the Harvard University study a “major victory” for the cannabis industry, as pancreatic cancer is predicted to be the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths by 2020.

The study, which was published in the journal ‘Frontiers of Oncology’ on July 23rd, found that a chemical found in cannabis has demonstrated “significant therapy potential” for treating pancreatic cancer. Dr. Ngwa, one of the researchers involved in the study, said, “The most significant conclusion is that tumor-targeted delivery of flavonoids, derived from cannabis, enabled both local and metastatic tumor cell kill, significantly increasing survival from pancreatic cancer.” He added, “If successfully translated clinically, this will have a major impact on the treatments of pancreatic cancer.”

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