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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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 Science Reports: National Cancer Institute Updates Confirm Successful Cancer Treatments With Medical Cannabis

NewImageCannabis Science, Inc. (OTCBB:CBIS), a pioneering US biotech company developing pharmaceutical cannabis products, is pleased to report a government released update on cancer treatments using medical cannabis (marijuana), updated March 17, 2011, summarizing how the treatment of cancer with cannabinoids goes beyond the simple treatment of symptoms and side effects by exhibiting possible direct antitumor activities.

This summary contains the following key information:

– Cannabis has been used for medicinal purposes for thousands of years prior to its current status as an illegal substance.

– Chemical components of Cannabis, called cannabinoids, activate specific receptors found throughout the body to produce pharmacologic effects, particularly in the central nervous system and the immune system…

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http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/221024.php