Study Finds Cannabis May Significantly Slow Tumor Growth in Brain Cancer Patients

A new study suggests that cannabis may be able to dramatically slow the growth of brain cancer tumors.

Specialists at St. George’s University of London studied the treatment of brain cancer tumors in the laboratory and found that the most effective treatment was to combine active chemical components of the cannabis plant, called cannabinoids.

The researchers tested two of these compounds, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). Cannabinoids are the active chemicals in cannabis and are also known more specifically as phytocannabinoids. The cannabis plant has 85 known cannabinoids.

The researchers tested THC and CBD as part of research into the treatment of brain cancer, which is particularly difficult to treat and is responsible for 5,200 deaths per year. Brain cancer is associated with a poor prognosis, with a rate survival after five years of patients’ diagnosis around ten percent.

The researchers studied the effects with no treatment, the cannabinoids alone and irradiation alone or with both the cannabinoids and irradiation at the same time and found that combining THC and CBD with irradiation had a drastic effect. When tested in mice, brain tumors were drastically slowed when THC/CBD was used alongside irradiation.

“Those treated with both irradiation and the cannabinoids saw the most beneficial results and a drastic reduction in size. In some cases, the tumors effectively disappeared in the animals. The augurs well for further research in humans in the future. At the moment this is a mostly fatal disease,” said Dr. Wai Liu, Senior Research Fellow and lead researcher on the project. “The benefits of the cannabis plant elements were known before but the drastic reduction of brain cancers if used with irradiation is something new and may well prove promising for patients who are in gravely serious situations with such cancers in the future.”

The research team is discussing potentially combining cannabinoids with irradiation in a human clinical trial.

The research was published in the Molecular Cancer Therapeutics Journal.

Source: St. George’s University of London November 2014

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