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How Cannabis Was Used To Shrink One Of The Most Aggressive Brain Cancers


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http://www.iflscience.com/health-and-medicine/how-cannabis-was-used-shrink-one-most-aggressive-brain-cancers

 

How Cannabis Was Used To Shrink One Of The Most Aggressive Brain Cancers

November 14, 2014 | by Wai Liu

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Photo credit: Jordan Greentree
 

Widely proscribed around the world for its recreational uses, cannabis is being used in a number of different therapeutic ways to bring relief for severe medical conditions. Products using cannabinoids, the active components of the cannabis plant, have been licensed for medical use. Sativex, for example, which contains an equal mixture of the cannabinoids tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), is already licenced as a mouth spray for multiple sclerosis and in the US, dronabinol and nabilone are commercially available for treating cancer-related side effects.

Now, in a study published in Molecular Cancer Therapeutics, we’ve also shown that cannabinoids could play a role in treating one of the most aggressive cancers in adults.

There are more than 85 cannabinoids, which are known to bind to unique receptors in cells and which receive outside chemical signals. These receptors feed into signalling pathways, telling cells what to do. Recent studies have shown that some cannabinoids have potent anti-cancer action. For example, both THC and CBD have been shown in a number of laboratory studies to effectively induce cell death in tumour cells by modifying the faulty signalling pathways inside these cells. Depending on the cell type this can disrupt tumour growth or start to kill it.

The psychoactivity associated with some cannabinoids, principally THC (which gives people a cannabis high), is also mediated via the same receptors. Because these receptors are found in the highest abundances in brain cells, it follows that brain tumours also rich in these receptors may respond best to cannabinoids.

We wanted to investigate the anti-cancer effects of Sativex in glioma cells. High-grade glioma is an aggressive cancer, with very low long-term survival rates. Statistics show that just over a third (36%) of adult patients in the UK with glioma live for at least a year, while the five-year survival rate is 10%.

Depending on the individual, treatment can consist of surgery, radiotherapy, and/or chemotherapy with the drug temozolomide. However, due primarily to the intricate localisation of the tumour in the brain and its invasive behaviour, these treatments remain largely unsuccessful.

However, as our study showed, combining radiotherapy with cannabinoid treatment had a big effect.

Finding The Right Dose

We first had to perform lab tests on cells to optimise the doses of the cannabinoids, and showed that CBD and THC combined favourably.

We found that to achieve a 50% kill rate of glioma cells, a dose of 14mM (millimolar – a measure of amount-of-substance concentration) of CBD or 19mM of THC would be needed if each was used singularly. However, when used in combination, the concentrations required to achieve the same magnitude of cell kill is significantly reduced to just 7mM for each. This apparent reduction in the doses of the cannabinoids, in particular THC, without a loss of overall anti-cancer action is particularly attractive as unwanted side effects are also reduced.

Once we had these results, we then tested the impact of combining the cannabinoids with irradiation in mice with glioma. The efficacy of this treatment was tracked using sophisticated MRI technology – and we determined the effects on tumour growth of either CBD and THC together, irradiation, or the combination of both. The drugs were used at suboptimal doses to allow us to see if there was any improvement in the therapy from combining them.

Balancing Anti-Cancer With Psychoactive

In principle, patients treated with THC could experience some psychoactive activity. But the secret to successfully exploiting cannabinoids as a treatment for cancer is to balance the desired anti-cancer effects with the less desirable psychoactive effects. This is possible, as some cannabinoids seem to function independently of the receptors and so do not engage the adverse effects. CBD is one such cannabinoid. The doses of THC we selected were below the psychoactive level, but together with CBD it partnered well to give the best overall anti-cancer effect.

Our results showed that the dose of irradiation we used had no dramatic effect on tumour growth, whereas CBD and THC administered together marginally reduced tumour progression. However, combining the cannabinoids with irradiation further impeded the rate at which tumour growth progressed and was virtually stagnant throughout the course of the treatment. Correspondingly, tumour sizes on the final day of the study were significantly smaller in these subjects compared with any of the others.

The results are promising. There may be other applications but for now it could provide a way of breaking through glioma and saving more lives.

Wai Liu receives funding from GW Pharmaceuticals.

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

 

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Marijuana Drastically Shrinks Aggressive Form Of Brain Cancer, New Study Finds

Posted: 11/18/2014 9:58 pm EST Updated: 11/19/2014 10:59 am EST
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Over the past few years, research has revealed that marijuana can both destroy certain cancer cells and reduce the growth of others. Now, a new study in mice has found that when combined with radiation treatment, cannabis can effectively shrink one of the most aggressive types of brain tumors.

In a paper published Friday in the journal Molecular Cancer Therapies, a team of researchers from St. George's University of London outlined the "dramatic reductions" they observed in high-grade glioma masses, a deadly form of brain cancer, when treated with a combination of radiation and two different marijuana compounds, also known as cannabinoids. In many cases, those tumors shrunk to as low as one-tenth the sizes of those in the control group.

"We've shown that cannabinoids could play a role in treating one of the most aggressive cancers in adults," Dr. Wai Liu, one of the study's lead authors, wrote in an op-ed earlier this week. "The results are promising...it could provide a way of breaking through glioma and saving more lives."

 

In an email to The Huffington Post, Liu pointed out that while research surrounding marijuana's cancer-fighting properties is nothing new, his team is the first to document its effect on the disease when used alongside radiation. "The results showed that the final effect was superior to the sum of the parts," he said. "Hopefully, these results will support calls for formal trials in humans to test these combinations."

Liu and his colleagues examined mice that had been infected with glioma and subsequently treated with radiation alone or in combination with varying levels of two cannabis compounds: THC, the psychoactive compound associated with the "high" sensation, and CBD, which doesn't produce psychoactive side effects.

They found that the tumors were best treated by low doses of both THC and CBD that, when used in concert, made the tumors more receptive to radiation treatment. "Our data suggests a 'triple threat' approach using all three may be of value," Liu told HuffPost.

The researchers also found that together, the low doses of THC and CBD produced a similar effect to a large dose of either compound, which is noteworthy because it indicates that patients may ultimately experience fewer side effects.

THC and CBD are just two of the dozens of chemical compounds found in the cannabis plant. While research surrounding the therapeutic effects of these compounds has been limited, a team of scientists from the U.K. last year found that a combination of six different purified cannabinoids can kill the cancerous cells found in individuals with leukemia.

Meanwhile, when used alone as a form of treatment, THC has been shown to reduce the size of other cancerous tumors and stop the spread of HIV, and CBD strains of marijuana have had a profound effect on children and adults who suffer from debilitating seizure disorders.

Despite these findings, marijuana is still classified as a Schedule I drug in the United States, meaning the federal government believes it has no medicinal value. The federally-funded National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) grows a limited supply of marijuana in Mississippi, which is used for government sanctioned research. While critics have long accused NIDA of only funding experiments that examine the substance's negative effects, the agency has conducted a handful of studies that look at its potential benefits.

Although 23 states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for medicinal purposes, many experts argue that the lack of federally regulated studies of cannabis limits doctors' and scientists' understanding of the full medical benefits of the plant, resulting instead in a trial-and-error attitude towards treatment.

"You can find publications from the '70s and '80s that show pure cannabidiol is an anti-convulsant," Catherine Jacobson, the director of research at the Epilepsy Foundation, told HuffPost last month. "And here we are 40 years later and we still don't have any new information about this."

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There are like 30 countries where hemp and cannabis have been legal for decades if not forever. I was hoping for reduced cancer rates reported in these countries, or at least places like Amsterdam, California, etc. Maybe these places could publish human trials by now since the herb is accessible and legal for them to study? why not I wonder?

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still illegal in netherlands, and research is illegal in california. can you name the 30 countries?

 

also , the cancer oil thing is fairly recent, while studies on smoking cannabis have determined a lower amount of head, neck and lung cancers, i dont think smoking alone will kill cancer at large rates.

 

tommy chong's prostate cancer appeared when he was in prison and obviously on break from marijuana. he treated it with cannabis oil when he got out. did the daily marijuana smoking reduce or retard his cancer? sure.

 

but think about how you would research that? from the outside it would just look like tommy chong would have gotten cancer with or without his marijuana use. there would be no way to tell if the marijuana in tommy's case was retarding the growth of the cancer without constant tests and monitoring.

 

thats only on a daily smoker. for the majority of people, daily smoking is NOT the norm. so the reduced cancer effects from smoking marihuana occassionally or even moderately might not be as strong as we hope.

Edited by t-pain
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sorry, I misspoke. I meant to say decriminalized/medical use.

The plant's been around since the beginning of time, as well as its derivatives.

It wasn't always prosecuted. during the time when our country was prescribing

it for all kinds of illnesses, I expect the same efficacy studies were performed

as with big pharma's other drugs of the time. The research exists for a millennium, yet

sometimes I get the feeling millions have just discovered it once again. With research, even

by our own young country, government patents, worldwide patented medicinal use, all being

past tense, I really figured at least one country could be a friggen star over night with

a perfect clinical study, peer reviewed, with irrefutable testimony and results by now, after a millennium and all...

 

here's a couple links with countries and their policies. Netherlands is decrim'd it shows, although illegal, like in most every country.

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legality_of_cannabis_by_country

 

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/27/marijuana-world-map-_n_3805800.html

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still illegal in netherlands, and research is illegal in california. can you name the 30 countries?

 

also , the cancer oil thing is fairly recent, while studies on smoking cannabis have determined a lower amount of head, neck and lung cancers, i dont think smoking alone will kill cancer at large rates.

 

tommy chong's prostate cancer appeared when he was in prison and obviously on break from marijuana. he treated it with cannabis oil when he got out. did the daily marijuana smoking reduce or retard his cancer? sure.

 

but think about how you would research that? from the outside it would just look like tommy chong would have gotten cancer with or without his marijuana use. there would be no way to tell if the marijuana in tommy's case was retarding the growth of the cancer without constant tests and monitoring.

 

thats only on a daily smoker. for the majority of people, daily smoking is NOT the norm. so the reduced cancer effects from smoking marihuana occassionally or even moderately might not be as strong as we hope.

I know a guy who smoked a lot of cannabis every single day and still got cancer. Then he smoked his arse off and took oil too. Still died. He was the heaviest cannabis user I have ever met. It's either 'it was his time to go' or there was no amount of cannabis smoking/eating that would save him. Either way, it's not an instant miracle like we alll wish it was. If it cures cancer 100% of the time then we have yet to discover the way to do that. It's not going to happen with 'normal use' or even 'heavy use' in the ways we have been using it. Once you see folks pass away after they fought hard with cannabis you know it's not 'the cure' as we know it. 

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In any illness there is a point of no return , where the damage is to extensive for any corrective action to be effective . Early detection is paramount .

And smoking your arse off practically your whole life will not prevent you from having cancer. That is what I learned. Cannabis can't make us imune or erase everything that makes cancer happen. Having said that, it's much easier to find out how something 'doesn't work' than to prove how and when it does work. 

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i think it has significantly different effects depending on the type and location of the cancer as well.

 

i think to use the phrase "cannabis can cure cancer" broadly is always a mistake.

 

cannabis has been found to have a definite affect on many forms of cancer... but not all.

 

this study has to do with Glioblastoma.

 

i am all to familiar with the Glio's

 

cannabis has been shown to absolutely help with this type of brain tumor.

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i think it has significantly different effects depending on the type and location of the cancer as well.

 

i think to use the phrase "cannabis can cure cancer" broadly is always a mistake.

 

cannabis has been found to have a definite affect on many forms of cancer... but not all.

 

this study has to do with Glioblastoma.

 

i am all to familiar with the Glio's

 

cannabis has been shown to absolutely help with this type of brain tumor.

Lost my best friend to a glioblastoma. I think it was his time to go...  I know that now. 

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one of the things i noted in the studies is that the mix of cbd and thc was noted as significant.

 

usually people go crazy over higher cbd plants.

 

i feel like the higher cbd counts may have a more significant effect on seizure treatments however when it comes to cancer and assisting our bodies immune system to be better at identifying the genetic disposition of each cell i feel like it is crucial to mix the thc and cbd's to have the most beneficial affect.

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Lost my best friend to a glioblastoma. I think it was his time to go...  I know that now. 

 

lost my dad to stage 4... 2-3-00

 

it may have been his time to go?  however i wish this information was available then.

 

it was hidden by our own government when a 1978 study reveled that cannabis shrinks glios.

 

ever since i read that article a few years ago i have been busy reading anything and everything i can find as it pertains to cannabis and cancers.

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  • 4 months later...

My wifes aunt just died from Cancer, it was 6 months and she was gone.  It was detected early, she went the full Chemo route, I talked to her husband yesterday, and he said if he had it to do over, they would have went with a full homeopathic approach, she was able to use cannabis in her last months, and stayed off pain meds right till the end, but the Chemo reduced her to a shell of who she was (same as it did my father).  Funeral tomorrow.  There's always a point of no return, T-Pain is right, there's no cure, but there seems to be a remedy, and for people who are genetically predisposed to getting cancer, it may become indispensable.  Needless to say, it's been a bad 420.

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i was talking to a friend who said her husband was put on a blood pressure medication which was causing him lung problems like athsma. he was on a nebulizer even. she got him to back off that medication and he got back to normal.

 

every medicine has side effects and i've seen many people say they wish they had tried something earlier or done it differently.

 

so if you know someone with health problems , let them know the alternatives. print it off and give it to them. tell them to try it because it cannot hurt (get a dr opinion too).

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