Study Finds Cannabis Compounds Can Kill Cancer Cells

Study Finds Cannabis Compounds Can Kill Cancer Cells

cancerA scientist in the United Kingdom has found that compounds derived from marijuana can kill cancerous cells found in people with leukemia, a form of cancer that is expected to cause an estimated 24,000 deaths in the United States this year.

“Cannabinoids have a complex action; it hits a number of important processes that cancers need to survive,” study author Dr. Wai Liu, an oncologist at the University of London’s St. George medical school, told The Huffington Post. “For that reason, it has really good potential over other drugs that only have one function. I am impressed by its activity profile, and feel it has a great future, especially if used with standard chemotherapies.”

Liu’s study was recently published in the journal Anticancer Research. It was supported by funding from GW Pharmaceuticals, which already makes a cannabis-derived drug used to treat spasticity caused by multiple sclerosis.

The study looked at the effects of six different non-psychoactive cannabinoids — compounds derived from marijuana that do not cause the “high” associated with its THC ingredient — when applied alone, and in combination, to leukemia cells. Cannabinoids displayed a “diverse range of therapeutic qualities” that “target and switch off” pathways that allow cancers to grow, Liu told U.S. News & World Report.

In an interview with The Huffington Post, Liu stressed that that his research was built around the testing of the six purified cannabinoid forms — not traditional cannabis oil, which Liu described as “crude” in comparison and generally containing 80-100 different cannabinoids. “We do not really know which are the ones that will be anticancer and those that may be harmful,” Liu said.

During the study, Liu and his team grew leukemia cells in a lab and cultured them with increasing doses of the six pure cannabinoids, both individually and in combination with each other. His study says the six cannabinoids were CBD (Cannabidiol), CBDA (Cannabidiolic acid), CBG (Cannbigerol), CBGA (Cannabigerolic acid), CBGV (Cannabigevarin) and CBGVA (Cannabigevaric acid). Liu and his team then assessed the viability of the leukemia cells and determined whether or not the cannabinoids destroyed the cells or stopped them from growing.

Although promising, Liu also said that it remains unclear if the cannabinoid treatment would work on the 200-plus existing types of cancer.

“Cancer is an umbrella term for a range of diseases that fundamentally differ in their cellular makeup, [and] which occur as a result of disturbances to growth controls,” Liu said. “Chemotherapy works by disrupting these dysfunctional growth signals. Therefore, any cancers that have these profiles should respond to the chemotherapy. It just so happens that a number of cannabinoids can target these very same mechanisms that make cancer what it is, and so any cancer that exhibits these faults should respond well to cannabinoids. The flip side is, of course, that other cancers may not have these same genetic faults and so cannabinoids may not work as well.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control, 7.6 million people die from various forms of cancer each year worldwide.

When asked if smoking marijuana has the same or similar effects as ingesting the pure cannabinoid compounds he studied, Liu said he thinks it’s unlikely.

“Smoking cannabis introduces a number of potential problems,” Liu said. “First, the complex makeup of cannabis that contains about 80 bioactive substances means that the desired anticancer effect may be lost because these compounds may interfere with each other. Second, we see that delivering the drug either by injection or by a tablet would ensure the most effective doses are given. Smoking would be variable, and indeed the heat of the burning may actually destroy the useful nature of the compounds.”

In 2012, researchers at the California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco found that CBD (cannbidiol), a non-toxic, non-psychoactive chemical compound found in the cannabis plant, could stop metastasis in many kinds of aggressive cancer.

The National Cancer Institute has also funded some research into cannabis and cancer, including a 2012 study that looked at the effects cannabis compounds have on slowing the progression of breast cancer, spokesman Michael Miller told U.S. News and World Report. However NCI has not funded research on the effects of cannabinoids on leukemia.

Liu stressed that much work is still needed, and said that finding support for marijuana-derived medicines can be polarizing.

“Although there is much promise, I struggle to find enough support to drive this work on,” Liu said. “The mention of cannabinoids can polarize the public, who understandably link cannabis smoking with cannabis-derived drugs.”

Liu told the Seattle PI’s Pot Blog that he hopes to start clinical trials involving humans in 12 to 18 months.

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Study shows non-hallucinogenic cannabinoids are effective anti-cancer drugs

medical-marijuanaNew research has shown that the non-hallucinogenic components of cannabis could act as effective anti-cancer agents.

The anti-cancer properties of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the primary hallucinogenic component of cannabis, has been recognised for many years, but research into similar cannabis-derived compounds, known as cannabinoids, has been limited.

The study was carried out by a team at St George’s, University of London. It has been published in the journal Anticancer Research.

The team, led by Dr Wai Liu and colleagues carried out laboratory investigations using a number of cannabinoids, either alone or in combination with each other, to measure their anti-cancer actions in relation to leukaemia.

Of six cannabinoids studied, each demonstrated anti-cancer properties as effective as those seen in THC. Importantly, they had an increased effect on cancer cells when combined with each other.

Dr Liu said: “This study is a critical step in unpicking the mysteries of cannabis as a source of medicine. The cannabinoids examined have minimal, if any, hallucinogenic side effects, and their properties as anti-cancer agents are promising.

“These agents are able to interfere with the development of cancerous cells, stopping them in their tracks and preventing them from growing. In some cases, by using specific dosage patterns, they can destroy cancer cells on their own.

“Used in combination with existing treatment, we could discover some highly effective strategies for tackling cancer. Significantly, these compounds are inexpensive to produce and making better use of their unique properties could result in much more cost effective anti-cancer drugs in future.”

This latest research is part of a growing portfolio of studies into the medicinal properties of cannabis by the research team at St George’s. The next step will be to examine in the laboratory these compounds in combination with existing anti-cancer treatments and study treatment schedules to identify strategies that will maximise their efficacy.

The study examined two forms of cannabidiol (CBD), two forms of cannabigerol (CBG) and two forms of cannabigevarin (CBGV). These represent the most common cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant apart from THC.

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Notes to Editors

For more information or interviews, contact St George’s, University of London Communications on 0208 725 1139 or at media@sgul.ac.uk.

Cannabis, also known as marijuana, is a plant from Central Asia that is grown in many parts of the world today. It is a controlled substance in the UK and is most commonly known as a recreational drug.

Cannabinoids are active chemicals in cannabis. They are also known more specifically as phytocannabinoids. There are 85 known cannabinoids in the cannabis plant. The main active cannabinoid in Cannabis is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

The cannabis plant is known for its medicinal properties and has been used to relieve symptoms associated with cancer, HIV/AIDS, multiple sclerosis, anorexia, anxiety, depression, and numerous other illnesses and conditions.

Read the full research paper in the journal Anticancer Researchhttp://ar.iiarjournals.org/content/33/10/4373.abstract

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Active Ingredient in Cannabis Kills Cancer Cells in Brain

LabNew research out of Spain suggests that THC — the active ingredient in marijuana — appears to prompt the death of brain cancer cells.

The finding is based on work with mice designed to carry human cancer tumors, as well as from an analysis of THC’s impact on tumor cells extracted from two patients coping with a highly aggressive form of brain cancer.

Explaining that the introduction of THC into the brain triggers a cellular self-digestion process known as “autophagy,” study co-author Guillermo Velasco said his team has isolated the specific pathway by which this process unfolds, and noted that it appears “to kill cancer cells, while it does not affect normal cells.”

Velasco is with the department of biochemistry and molecular biology in the School of Biology at Complutense University in Madrid. The findings were published in the April issue of The Journal of Clinical Investigation.

The Spanish researchers focused on two patients suffering from “recurrent glioblastoma multiforme,” a fast-moving form of brain cancer. Both patients had been enrolled in a clinical trial designed to test THC’s potential as a cancer therapy.

Using electron microscopes to analyze brain tissue taken both before and after a 26- to 30-day THC treatment regimen, the researchers found that THC eliminated cancer cells while it left healthy cells intact.

The team also was able, in what it described as a “novel” discovery, to track the signaling route by which this process was activated.

These findings were replicated in work with mice, which had been “engineered” to carry three different types of human cancer tumor grafts.

“These results may help to design new cancer therapies based on the use of medicines containing the active principle of marijuana and/or in the activation of autophagy,” Velasco said.

Outside experts suggested that more research is needed before advocating marijuana as a medicinal intervention for brain cancer.

Dr. John S. Yu, co-director of the Comprehensive Brain Tumor Program in the Maxine Dunitz Neurosurgical Institute at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, said the findings were “not surprising.”

“There have been previous reports to this effect as well,” he said. “So this is yet another indication that THC has an anti-cancer effect, which means it’s certainly worth further study. But it does not suggest that one should jump at marijuana for a potential cure for cancer, and one should not urge anyone to start smoking pot right away as a means of curing their own cancer.”

But that’s exactly what many brain cancer patients have been doing, said Dr. Paul Graham Fisher, the Beirne Family director of Neuro-Oncology at Stanford University.

“In fact, 40 percent of brain tumor patients in the U.S. are already using alternative treatments, ranging from herbals to vitamins to marijuana,” he said. “But that actually points out a cautionary tale here, which is that many brain cancer patients are already rolling a joint to treat themselves, but we’re not really seeing brain tumors suddenly going away as a result, which we clearly would’ve noticed if it had that effect. So we need to be open-minded. But this suggests that the promise of THC might be a little over-hoped, and certainly requires further investigation before telling people to go out and roll a joint.”

By Alan Mozes

HealthDay Reporter
April 2

More information

For additional details on the risks and benefits of marijuana use as it relates to cancer, visit the National Cancer Institute or the American Cancer Society.

SOURCES: Guillermo Velasco, Ph.D., department of biochemistry and molecular biology, School of Biology, Complutense University, Madrid; John S. Yu, M.D., co-director, Comprehensive Brain Tumor Program, Maxine Dunitz Neurosurgical Institute, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles; Paul Graham Fisher, M.D., associate professor, neurology, pediatrics, and neurosurgery and human biology and the Beirne Family Director of Neuro-Oncology, Stanford University; April 2009, The Journal of Clinical Investigation

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Cannabidiol (CBD) “Turns Off” the Cancer Gene Involved in Metastasis Findings by Scientists at California Pacific Medical Center gives Scientific Support for Cannabis Science Initiatives

products_overviewNew studies by Scientists at California Pacific Medical Center, have shown that cannabidiol, (CBD), has the ability to “turn off” a gene that causes breast and other types of cancers to metastasize, according to the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper.

NBC News reports, “The drug “has been shown to reduce pain and nausea” in cancer patients. AIDS patients also use cannabis to eat, sleep and otherwise be more functional. Turns out that cannabidiol has none of the psychotropic effects of marijuana as a whole. The researchers hope to move to clinical trials on humans soon to test the cannabidiol inhibition of metastasis, reported in the San Francisco Chronicle. “What they found is that the cannabinoid turns off the overexpression of ID-1, which makes the cells lose their ability to travel to distant tissues. In other words, it keeps the cells more local and blocks their ability to metastasize. (spread to a new location) The researchers stressed cannabidiol works only on cancer cells that have these high levels of ID-1 and these do not include all cancerous tumors but, rather, aggressive, metastatic cells. But they’ve found such high levels in leukemia, colorectal, pancreatic, lung, ovarian, brain and other cancers.”

Cannabis Science appreciates this additional scientific support that this report provides for our two target drug development programs as the Company moves forward with CS-TATI-1, and based on the success of previous skin cancer patients who self-administered cannabis-based treatments, the Company is focusing on the use of CS-S/BCC-1 topical cannabis-based preparations for the treatment of basal and squamous cell carcinomas.

Dr. Robert Melamede states, “Cannabis Science is excited for the increasing scientific support for our projects. In the near future, we will share new developments, as well a the progress we have made with our earlier defined initiatives. Our professional expansion and development, as detailed in our latest news releases,was driven by the science of how cannabinoids can benefit both HIV/AIDS and Cancer Patients.”

San Francisco Chronicle: http://www.sfgate.com/health/article/Pot-compound-seen-as-tool-against-cancer-3875562.php#page-1

About CS-S/BCC-1

Cannabis Science is currently working with CBR International to develop a Pre-IND Application to the FDA that focuses on the use of CS-S/BCC-1 topical cannabis-based preparations for the treatment of basal and squamous cell carcinomas. Cannabis Science has already seen success with 4 self-medicated skin cancer patients. These patients have been self-administering using cannabis-based extracts applied topically to their carcinomas and tumors. These patients have experienced shrinking and apparent eradication of their skin cancer, backed by positive reports from their doctors, which is why the Company is confident about the eminent success of this new drug to be developed.

About CS-TATI-1

Data published in March by researchers at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine found that cannabinoids inhibit TAT induced migration to TAT via cannabinoid 2 receptors (CB2). Funding for the Mount Sinai study was provided by a National Institutes of Health (NIH) Clinical and Translational Science Award Grant. Cannabis Science’s research of CS-TATI-1 will be targeted to newly diagnosed patients infected with drug resistant virus, treatment experienced patients with drug-resistant HIV strains, and those intolerant of currently available therapies. Cannabis Science will be pursuing a wide range of NIH based Federal Research Programs such as RO1’s, PO1’s and SBIRS which exist to support preclinical development of target validation and proof of concept studies. Cannabis Science will be pursing implementation of these studies through collaborations with leading scientific institutions. Cannabis Science will also be pursuing other clinical research collaborations including the AIDS Clinical Trials Groups (ACTG), the Canadian AIDS Trial Network (CATN) and the European AIDS Trial Network (EATN).

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Marijuana Compound May Stop Breast Cancer From Spreading, Study Says

 

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“A compound found in cannabis may stop breast cancer from spreading throughout the body, according to a new study by scientists at California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute. The researchers are hopeful that the compound called CBD, which is found in cannabis sativa, could be a non-toxic alternative to chemotherapy.

Click here to read more about this study

“Right now we have a limited range of options in treating aggressive forms of cancer,” said lead researcher Dr. Sean D. McAllister, a cancer researcher at CPMCRI, in a news release. “Those treatments, such as chemotherapy, can be effective but they can also be extremely toxic and difficult for patients. This compound offers the hope of a non-toxic therapy that could achieve the same results without any of the painful side effects.”

The researchers tested CBD to inhibit the activity of a gene called Id-1, which is believed to be responsible for the aggressive spread of cancer cells throughout the body, away from the original tumor site.

“We know that Id-1 is a key regulator of the spread of breast cancer,” said Dr. Pierre-Yves Desprez, a cancer researcher at CPMCRI and the senior author of the study, in a news release. “We also know that Id-1 has also been found at higher levels in other forms of cancer. So what is exciting about this study is that if CBD can inhibit Id-1 in breast cancer cells, then it may also prove effective at stopping the spread of cancer cells in other forms of the disease, such as colon and brain or prostate cancer.”

Comparing it with another ingredient isolated from marijuana called THC, which is used in some medical treatments, the researchers said CBD does not have any psychoactive properties, so using it would not violate any state or federal laws. However, the researchers stressed that they are not suggesting that breast cancer patients smoke marijuana. They say it is highly unlikely that effective concentrations of CBD could be reached by smoking pot.

The study is published in the latest issue of the journal Molecular Cancer Therapeutics.”

 

Marijuana Compounds Could Beat Back Brain Cancer

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“By Randy Dotinga

HealthDay Reporter 
1/12/10, 4:23 AM EST

MONDAY, Jan. 11 (HealthDay News) — Preliminary research suggests that a combination of compounds in marijuana could help fight off a particularly deadly form of brain cancer.

But the findings shouldn’t send patients rushing to buy pot: the levels used in the research appear to be too high to obtain through smoking. And there’s no sign yet that the approach works in laboratory animals, let alone people.

Still, the finding does suggest that more than one compound in marijuana might boost cancer treatment, said study author Sean McAllister, an associate scientist at California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute in San Francisco. “Combination therapies might be more appropriate,” McAllister said.

Researchers have long studied the compounds in marijuana known as cannabinoids, which are thought to hold possible health benefits. One, known as THC, is well known for its role in making people high when they smoke or eat pot. Researchers have been testing it as a treatment for the brain tumors known as glioblastomas.

In the new study, researchers tested THC and cannabidiol, another compound from marijuana, on brain cancer cells. The findings appear in the January issue of Molecular Cancer Therapeutics.

The study authors found that the combination treatment seemed to work better at killing the cancerous cells and preventing them from growing back.”

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