Marijuana Compounds Can Kill Some Cancer Cells

Oct 26, 2013

A 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. Source: Huff­in­g­ton Post (NY) Author: Matt Ferner, The Huff­in­g­ton Post Pub­lished: Octo­ber 25, 2013 Copy­right: 2013 Huff​in​g​ton​Post​.com, LLC Con­tact: scoop@​huffingtonpost.​com Web­site: http://​www​.huff​in​g​ton​post​.com/

 Marijuana Compounds Can Kill Some Cancer Cells

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Mar­i­juana Com­pounds Can Kill Some Can­cer Cells

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