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.

Ends

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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Cured Too: A Cancer Story: A Film By David Triplett

Cured Too: A Cancer Story: A Film By David Triplett

This is a documentary of how myself and others cured our cancers using an alternative and controversial treatment: cannabis oil. It’s a proven fact that CBD and THC, two of many components in cannabis, shrink tumors and cure cancer. This documentary shows my cancer being cured and explores the history and politics of cannabis and cancer. You will also see samples of many antique cannabis medicine bottles.

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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Cannabis Compound (CBD) May Beat Antipsychotics at Treating Schizophrenia

By  Associate News Editor

Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on June 7, 2012

arizona-medical-marijuana-testing-cbd

A certain marijuana compound known as cannabidiol (CBD) can treat schizophrenia as well as antipsychoticdrugs, with far fewer side effects, according to a preliminary clinical trial.

The research team, led by Markus Leweke of the University of Cologne in Germany, studied 39 people with schizophrenia who were hospitalized for a psychotic episode. Nineteen patients were treated with amisulpride, an antipsychotic medication that is not approved in the U.S., but is similar to other approved drugs.

The remaining 20 patients were given CBD, a substance found in marijuana that is considered responsible for the mellowing or anxiety-reducing effects. Unlike the main ingredient in marijuana, THC, which can trigger psychotic episodes and worsen schizophrenia, CBD has antipsychotic effects, according to prior research in both animals and humans.

Neither the patients nor the scientists knew who was receiving which drug. At the end of the four-week trial, both groups made significant clinical improvements in their schizophrenic symptoms, and there was no difference between those getting CBD or amisulpride.

“The results were amazing,” said Daniel Piomelli, Ph.D., professor of pharmacology at the University of California-Irvine and a co-author of the study. “Not only was [CBD] as effective as standard antipsychotics, but it was also essentially free of the typical side effects seen with antipsychotic drugs.”

Antipsychotic drugs may cause devastating and sometimes permanent movement disorders; they can also lower a patient’s motivation and pleasure. The new generation of these drugs can also lead to weight gain and increase the risk for diabetes. These side effects are well known as a major hindrance during treatment.

In the German study, weight gain and movement problems were observed in patients taking amisulpride, but not CBD.

“These exciting findings should stimulate a great deal of research,” said Dr. John Krystal, chair of psychiatry at Yale University School of Medicine, who was not associated with the research. He notes that CBD not only had fewer side effects, but also seemed to work better on schizophrenia’s so-called “negative symptoms,” which are notoriously hard to treat.

Negative symptoms of schizophrenia include social withdrawal, a lowered sense of pleasure and a lack of motivation. However, since current antipsychotic medications can actually cause these negative symptoms, it wasn’t clear whether CBD was better than amisulpride at getting rid of these symptoms, or whether CBD simply caused fewer side effects to begin with.

If replicated, the results suggest that CBD may be at least as effective as current medications for the treatment of schizophrenia, without the severe side effects that make patients reluctant to take medication.

“The real problem with CBD is that it’s hard to develop for a variety of silly reasons,” said Piomelli. Since it comes from marijuana, there are obvious political issues surrounding its use. Extracting it from the plant is also expensive.

But the biggest obstacle may be that CBD is a natural compound, and therefore can’t be patented the way new drugs are. So although CBD could outsell the current blockbuster antipsychotic drugs, pharmaceutical companies aren’t likely to develop it. Researchers are working to develop synthetic versions of CBD that would avoid such hurdles.

“We have one and are hoping to move forward in the near future,” Piomelli said.

The study is published online in the journal Translational Psychiatry.

Source:  University of Cologne

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Mutations Found in Individuals With Autism Interfere With Endocannabinoid Signaling in the Brain

inhibitory neuron whose function is affected by neuroligin mutation
inhibitory neuron whose function is affected by neuroligin mutation

Mutations found in individuals with autism block the action of molecules made by the brain that act on the same receptors that marijuana’s active chemical acts on, according to new research reported online April 11 in the Cell Press journal Neuron. The findings implicate specific molecules, called endocannabinoids, in the development of some autism cases and point to potential treatment strategies.

“Endocannabinoids are molecules that are critical regulators of normal neuronal activity and are important for many brain functions,” says first author Dr. Csaba Földy, of Stanford University Medical School. “By conducting studies in mice, we found that neuroligin-3, a protein that is mutated in some individuals with autism, is important for relaying endocannabinoid signals that tone down communication between neurons.”

When the researchers introduced different autism-associated mutations in neuroligin-3 into mice, this signaling was blocked and the overall excitability of the brain was changed.

“These findings point out an unexpected link between a protein implicated in autism and a signaling system that previously had not been considered to be particularly important for autism,” says senior author Dr. Thomas Südhof, also of Stanford. “Thus, the findings open up a new area of research and may suggest novel strategies for understanding the underlying causes of complex brain disorders.”

The results also indicate that targeting components of the endocannabinoid signaling system may help reverse autism symptoms.

The study’s findings resulted from a research collaboration between the Stanford laboratories of Dr. Südhof and Dr. Robert Malenka, who is also an author on the paper.

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Neuron, Foldy et al.: “Autism-Associated Neuroligin-3 Mutations Commonly Disrupt Tonic Endocannabinoid Signaling.”

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How Medical Marijuana Is Giving a Six-Year-Old Boy New Life

NewImage

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

To treat son’s epilepsy, a father turns to medical marijuana

Topamax. Depakote. Phenobarbital. The list goes on. Before Jayden David turned 5, he had tried a dozen powerful medications to tame a rare form of epilepsy. The side effects were devastating.
There were grand mal seizures that lasted more than an hour. Hundreds of times a day, muscle twitches contorted his impish face.

“If he wasn’t sleeping, he was seizing,” said Jayden’s father, Jason David.

Feeling helpless, David said, he contemplated suicide. He prayed. Then one day he heard about a teenager who was expelled from school for using marijuana to help control seizures.

 
So began the pair’s journey into California’s medical cannabis culture.

In the 14 months since, the little boy has been swallowing droppers full of a solution made mostly of cannabidiol, or CBD, the second most prominent of marijuana’s 60 or so cannabinoids. Unlike the dominant THC, cannabidiol is not psychoactive, so the sweet-tasting infusion Jayden takes four times a day doesn’t make him high.

Down from 22 prescription pills per day to four, he now eats solid food, responds to his father’s incessant requests for kisses and dances in his Modesto living room to the “Yo Gabba Gabba!” theme song. The frequency and intensity of his seizures have been greatly reduced.

Read the full story: To treat son’s epilepsy, man goes to the frontier of medical pot

– Lee Romney”