The Data is Very Strong: Marijuana Plant Extract Stops Cancers From Spreading
Sept 28, 2012 | Marco Torres
The data is very strong and there's no toxicity associated with A
compound found in cannabis could halt the spread of many forms of
aggressive cancer, scientists say.
The first research to show marijuana's anti-tumor properties was
presented at the American Association for Cancer Research meeting in
Los Angeles in 2007 demonstrating that THC may activate biological
pathways that halt cancer cell division or block development of blood
vessels that feed tumors. It then became a target of synthetic
research into THC for drugs such as ImClone System Inc.'s Erbitux
and Amgen Inc.'s Vectibix.
Researchers have now found that the compound,
called cannabidiol, had the ability to 'switch off' the gene responsible
for metastasis in an aggressive form of breast cancer. Importantly,
this substance does not produce the psychoactive properties of the
The team from the California Pacific
Medical Center, in San Francisco, first spotted its potential five
years ago, after it stopped the proliferation of human breast cancer
cells in the lab.
Last year they published a study that found a
similar effect in mice. Now they say they are on the verge of
publishing further animal study results that expand these results
Nonpsychoactive cannabinoids, such as cannabidoil,
are particularly advantageous to use because they avoid
toxicity that is encountered with psychoactive cannabinoids at
high doses useful in the method of the present invention. CBD
(Cannabidiol), one of the main constituents of the cannabis plant
has been proven medically to relieve many diseases including the
inhibition of cancer cell growth. Recent studies have shown it
to be an effective atypical anti-psychotic in treating schizophrenia.
CBD also interferes with the amount of THC your brain processes,
balancing the psychotropic effect of marijuana. That is precisely why the power of raw cannabis is turning heads.
Speaking to the San Francisco Chronicle,
study co-leader Dr Sean McAllister, said: 'The preclinical trial data
is very strong, and there's no toxicity. There's really a lot or
research to move ahead with and to get people excited.'
While he, along with colleague Dr Pierre
Desprez acknowledge that they are some way off from turning their
finding into a pill, they are already developing human trial models.
They hope to eventually test the drug in combination with current
Professor Desprez had previously found that a
protein called ID-1 seemed to play a role in causing breast cancer to
spread. Meanwhile Dr McAllister had discovered the cannabidiol had
The pair teamed up to see if they could treat a
particularly aggressive form of breast cancer called 'triple
negative.' This form, which affects 15 per cent of patients, doesn't
have three hormone receptors that the most successful therapies target.
Cells from this cancer have high levels of ID-1.
When they exposed cells from this cancer to
cannabidiol they were shocked to find the cells not only stopped
acting 'crazy' but also returned to a healthy normal state.
They discovered that the compound had turned off the overexpression of ID-1, stopping them from travelling to distant tissues.
Other potentially treatable cancers are forms
of leukaemia, lung, ovarian and brain cancers, which also have high
levels of ID-1.
Dr Desprez has a particular reason for wanting
to create a treatment as quickly as possible - his sister was recently
diagnosed with aggressive breast cancer at the age of 41.
Her condition is currently receptive to hormone
therapies but Professor Desprez fears it could recur in a form that
lacks hormone receptors.
He said: 'I want to be ready for that. There is a deadline.'
Cannabis is a Class B drug that is illegal to
have, give away or sell. “If cannabis were discovered in an Amazon
rainforests today, people would be clambering to make as much use as
they could out of the potential benefits of the plant,” said
Donald L. Abrams, MD, Chief of Hematology and Oncology at San
Francisco General Hospital and Professor of Medicine at the
University California. Dr. Abrams is widely known for his research
on medical cannabis applications. "Unfortunately, it carries with it
a long and not so long history of being a persecuted plant," he
is a research specialist, writer and consumer advocate for healthy
lifestyles. He holds degrees in Public Health and Environmental
Science and is a professional speaker on topics such as disease
prevention, environmental toxins and health policy.