In the new research center, which will be located at the university's medical school at Ribeirao Preto, Sao Paulo state, scientists will study and develop drugs made of cannabinoids, substances derived from cannabis, popularly known as marijuana.
All over the world, studies indicate that the substances have the potential to be used against a number of brain diseases, such as epilepsy and Parkinson's.
Recently, Brazil's drug regulation agency Anvisa allowed the import of cannabidiol to treat epilepsy in children.
The first clinical trials in the new USP research facility will involve precisely the use of one cannabidiol in 120 children and teenagers diagnosed with refractory epilepsy.
According to the coordinator of the new center, Prof. Antonio Waldo Zuardi, from USP's Neurosciences Department, there are several diseases for which clinical trials of cannabinoids are conducted, but further research still needs to be done until cannabidiol can be formally registered as a drug.
With the research center, Zuardi expects more studies will be carried out, and hopefully that will help reduce patients' suffering.
The Ribeirao Preto Medical School has been conducting cannabinoids research in Brazil the longest, with dozens of published studies.
There are also other Brazilian universities studying the substance, which makes Brazil one of the leading countries in the research of the therapeutic potential of cannabis derivatives.