Researchers have been overrun with calls from people asking to be guinea pigs in new cannabis trials.

About 50 people have shown an interest in the study, due to start in Oxford later this month.

The research, at the Rivermead Centre in Abingdon Road, is designed to prove that the class B illegal drug is beneficial for people with multiple sclerosis and other forms of nerve damage.

It could lead to a prescription form of the class B illegal drug being available within two years.

Co-ordinator Dr Philip Robson said: "We have had a huge response and it's quite surprising how many people are desperate for help because they are getting nowhere with other medication."

The £12m trials are being funded by G W Pharmaceuticals - the only UK drug company licensed to grow cannabis. It currently has 40,000 plants at a secret location in the south of England.

During the trials, patients will be given cannabis in spray form under their tongues and if they prove successful the firm, based in Salisbury, Wiltshire, will produce an inhaler.

It is believed that cannabis can alleviate pain, as well as reduce anxiety and spasm attacks. The drug may also prove beneficial for cancer patients and people suffering from rheumatoid arthritis.

Anyone who would like to take part in the trials should call 01865 247943 for more information.