Aboriginal medicine R&D project
Paul Marshall has managed the Mudjala Aboriginal medicine research and development project on behalf of the Jarlmadangah Burru Aboriginal Community (JBAC) and the Nyikina Mangala people since its inception.
Development of the Mudjala analgesic remedy into an over-the-counter topical pain treatment will be a great benefit to the wider community. Topical administration of analgesics is very well suited to post-operative pain relief and for the treatment of sports injuries. It can often be a more appropriate choice for pain relief in the elderly, and for patients taking multiple medications, as a topically delivered drug is less likely to interact with other drugs taken orally.
The Mudjala Aboriginal medicine project has strong potential to provide sustainable development opportunities to Nyikina Mangala people and a pathway to economic independence, as well as providing vocational training in the stewardship of natural resources, and lasting youth employment opportunities.
Through this project JBAC and Griffith University have forged a strong R&D partnership and put in place benefit sharing arrangements that are an Australian first. A key aspect of this project is its rare, almost unique status, as a commercial development of a traditional remedy with the full consent and critical involvement of the traditional knowledge owners. Under an unprecedented benefit-sharing agreement between Griffith and JBAC, the patents are jointly owned.
Unlike other instances where traditional knowledge has been utilized with little or no involvement of the owners, the development of Mudjala is being led by JBAC who bring to the project their traditional and ecological knowledge of the land and its diversity, while Griffith University and the University of Queensland provide expertise in their own fields of drug discovery, natural product chemistry and in vivo testing.
The JBAC project team is undertaking the ecological field studies required to prepare a Wild Harvest Management Plan for the commercial wild harvest of Mudjala, with support from a Caring for our Country grant and a WA NRM Community Grant. JBAC has also sought funding to establish a propagation nursery on community, to provide the capacity to revegetate degraded landscapes and to establish a plantation resource for meeting the anticipated supply chain demands into the future.
Paul develops and manages project grants, and coordinates project delivery, in consultation with JBAC directors and Senior Elders. He provides the link between Griffith University and JBAC, and with JBAC’s legal and technical advisors.