Studies in Spain have shown findings that Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active ingredient found in marijuana, can induce the death of brain cancer cells, according to scientist Guillermo Velasco and his research team from the School of Biology at Complutense University in Madrid.
In a laboratory study where mice were “engineered” to carry three varying kinds of human cancer tumor grafts, THC was introduced into the brain, triggering a self-digestion development on a cellular level, known as “autophagy.” Within this process, the research team managed to isolate the particular activation route from which this process evolved.
The research team was also conducting clinical trials in concert, on two consenting brain cancer patients, said to be suffering from a rapidly aggressive form of cancer, known as “recurrent glioblastoma multiforme.”
The team, using electron microscopes to analyze brain tissue extracted before and after the 26 to 30-day regime, found that the THC had eradicated cancer cells, leaving the healthy cells undamaged.
The findings can now lend themselves to future design in newer cancer therapies, using the concept of autophagy activation.
While the co-director of the Comprehensive Brain Tumor Program at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, Dr. John S. Yu responded that the findings were “not surprising” and definitely worth further study, he still advised people not to run out and roll a joint to treat themselves for brain cancer.
In the meantime, another study from Temple University’s School of Pharmacy, Philadelphia also suggests that there is a chemical element of the marijuana plant that could “prevent the onset of pain associated with drugs used in chemotherapy,” says a report published in the medical journal, Anesthesia and Analgesia.
Sara Jane Ward, Research Assistant Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Research Associate Professor of Substance Abuse at Temple University, spoke of research carried out on animals with cannabidiol, the second most active chemical contained in the marijuana plant, after THC.
Said Ward of the findings, “…Cannabidiol completely prevented the onset of the neuropathic or nerve pain caused by the chemo drug Paclitaxel, which is used to treat breast cancer.” Without generating any mind-altering outcomes, euphoria or increased appetite, Ward concluded that, “Cannabidiol has the therapeutic qualities of marijuana but not the side effects.” Similar to tests with THC, cannabidiol was also found to decrease tumor activity in animal testing, making it more likely to generate as effective an outcome in the treatment of breast cancer, particularly when used in combination therapy, with Paclitaxel.
Ward initially became interested in this study after learning about the debilitating neuropathic pain induced by certain chemotherapy treatments, particularly of those administered for the treatment of breast cancer. Because of the success of the studies, which are ongoing, Ward believes that this has facilitated further clinical trials in the US on cannabidiol and its effects for the treatment of a range of ailments, from cannabis addiction, eating disorders and schizophrenia.
The European Neuropsychopharmacology Journal has also published a study, confirming the positive effects of THC on negative stimuli and depression, according to a report in the Daily Mail. The Mail reports the study’s argument that marijuana may now be touted as a cure for depression and a variety of other mental ailments. With marijuana-derivative treatments being prescribed for a variety of cancer treatments, pain killers and depression, will there be such a heavy need in the future for what we know as conventional drugs? What lies ahead for the future of the pharmaceutical companies? Will they be joining the gravy train?
With a multi-million dollar distribution patent deal being reportedly signed today between CanChew Biotechnologies, a hemp-derived gum company and a Swiss-based distributor for nutraceutical products in Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), it appears to be a growing trend for companies to sprout up (no pun intended) and jump on the cannabis bandwagon, particularly with talks abounding across the globe and for calls from various organizations to legalize cannabis.
The marijuana industry is predicted to reach a US $9 billion per year valuation by the year 2017.
Written by: Brucella Newman