Research recently completed in Spain indicates that THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, appears to prompt the death of cancer cells in the brain.
The findings are based on work that was completed using mice carrying human cancer tumors. Additionally, two patients with glioblastoma multiforme, an extremely aggressive and rare form of cancer found in the brain, received THC. The THC’s effects were analyzed to determine what impact, if any, it had on the tumor cells.
The Spanish researchers choose to focus on two patients diagnosed with “recurrent glioblastoma multiforme,” a form of cancer found in the brain, that is known for being very fast-moving. Both patients had chose to enroll in a clinical trial designed to test the potential of thc as a cancer therapy.
After a treatment regimen using THC that lasted 26- to 30- day, tissue was taken from the brain and analyzed using an electron microscope. Researchers discovered that it had eliminated the cancer cells, however it had left the healthy cells intact.
Study co-author, Guillermo Velasco, explained that when introduced to the brain,thc triggers “autoghagy,” a cellular digestion process. The team was able to isolate the specific pathway taken as this process unfolds. He noted that it appears “to kill cancer cells, while it does not affect normal cells.”
Velasco is employed at the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Complutense University in Madrid. The Journal of Clinical Investigation published the findings in their April issue.
Additionally, the team was able, in what was deemed a “novel” discovery, to track the signaling route through which this process was activated.
They were able to replicate their work and findings using mice that had been “engineered” to be carriers of three different types of cancer tumor grafts found in humans.
“These results may help to design new cancer therapies based on the use of medicines containing the active principle of marijuana and/or in the activation of autophagy,” Velasco stated.
Experts, who were not involved in the study, suggest that additional research is necessary before advocating marijuana as a legitimate medical intervention for cancer located in the brain.
Dr. John S. Yu, co-director of the Comprehensive Brain Tumor Program in the Maxine Dunitz Neurosurgical Institute located at Cedars-Sinai Medical in Los Angeles, deemed the findings “not surprising.”
He stated, “There have been previous reports to this effect as well. This is yet another indication that THC has an anti-cancer effect, which means it’s certainly worth further study.However, it does not suggest that one should jump at marijuana for a potential cure for cancer, and one should not urge anyone to start smoking pot right away as a means of curing their own cancer.”
He went on to point out, “In fact, 40 percent of brain tumor patients in the U.S. are already using alternative treatments, ranging from herbals to vitamins to marijuana.”
He continued, “But that actually points out a cautionary tale here, which is that many brain cancer patients are already rolling a joint to treat themselves, but we’re not really seeing brain tumors suddenly going away as a result, which we clearly would’ve noticed to that effect. So we need to be open-minded.”
He concluded his statement by saying, “But this indicatesthat the promise of THC might be a little over-hoped, and certainly requires further investigation before telling people to go out and roll a joint.”
by Abra Gordon
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