Can Cannabis Boost Cancer Treatments?
Aug 10 2018 Read 1598 Times
The medical marijuana industry is quickly gaining momentum, with nations like Canada and the USA at the forefront of the movement. While cannabis is a well-known treatment for conditions like Alzheimer's, Crohn's, chronic pain and anxiety, health experts are now hailing it as a potential booster for pancreatic cancer treatments.
According to scientists, Cannabidiol (CBD), a plant-based medicine extracted from the Cannabis sativa and indica species, can actively enhance the effect of drugs used to treat pancreatic cancer and extend life expectancies by several years.
Fighting cancer with cannabis
As a non-psychoactive CBD doesn't induce a mind-altering "high". Instead, the naturally occurring cannabinoid is shown to have notable anti-inflammatory, analgesic and anti-anxiety properties. A team of researchers from London's Queen Mary University are now building on existing research and claiming that extracts from the herbaceous flowering plant can help boost pancreatic cancer treatments. Currently, just 5% of patients diagnosed with the condition survive for an additional five years, while a huge 80% pass away within 12 months.
“It is very aggressive, so it is very important to find new therapies for this cancer,” asserts Dr Riccardo Ferro, first author of the research.
The findings were published in the journal Oncogene and recount experiments conducted on both Petri dishes and mice that were genetically modified to develop pancreatic cancer. The team found that when exposed to CBD and issued with a chemotherapy drug known as gemcitabine, the life expectancies of mice soared.
A potent cannabis/gemcitabine cocktail
Gemcitabine actively targets GPR55, a G protein-coupled receptor gene linked to the growth and multiplication of pancreatic cancer cells. While placebo group mice lasted 19 days, CBD group mice lasted 25 days and gemcitabine mice lasted 28 days, a combination of gemcitabine and CBD saw mice survive for an average of 53 days after receiving treatment.
The team muse that CBD actively blocks GPR55 gene receptors and stop them from reacting with other substances that trigger the growth and multiplication of cancer cells. Furthermore, they noted CBD impedes gemcitabine resistance which helps the medicine perform better, for longer.
New awareness surrounding therapeutic values of cannabinoids
While medical trials haven't yet been approved, Ferro and his colleagues are optimistic the results can be replicated in humans. The findings have also been welcomed by senior members of the medical community, with Professor David Nutt, a former government adviser on drugs saying, “This is one drop in what I suspect will become a torrent of research findings showing therapeutic value of cannabinoids in a range of cancers".
For more news on the burgeoning medical marijuana industry don't miss 'Good is Not a Number - Challenges in the Cannabis Extraction Manufacturing: Transitioning from Traditional Subjective to Modern QC/QA/PAT Chromatographic Analysis'.
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