Olivia Newton-John, the Grammy Award-winning singer, died this week at 73 years old after a lengthy battle with breast cancer. While she was known as one of the stars of Grease, the Australian singer/actress was also a medical cannabis advocate. And her use of medical cannabis may have extended his life. Diagnosed in 1992, Olivia battled […]
Cannabis is already being used as a medicinal treatment for symptoms of cancer and cancer treatments, like radiation and chemotherapy. However, a recent study has found that cannabis use could actually curb the chances of developing hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), one of the most common malignancies worldwide.
The association between HCC and cannabis has previously been identified in mice, though, to the knowledge of researchers, not yet in humans, which prompted the investigation.
HCC accounts for the majority of primary liver cancers. The study notes that the World Health Organization expects the incidence of HCC to increase until 2030, with overestimates in excess of 1 million deaths from liver cancer. The United States has seen a 43% increase in death rates from liver cancer between 2000 and 2016.
Researchers from Georgetown University Hospital and the Cleveland Clinic used data from the National Inpatient Sample (NIS) database between 2002 to 2014, identifying patients with HCC and cannabis use diagnosis. The researchers then identified patients without cannabis use as a control group, adjusting for multiple potential confounders and performing a multivariable logistic regression analysis to determine the potential association between cannabis use and HCC.
To the knowledge of researchers, it was the largest study evaluating the relationship between cannabis use and HCC.
The study included a staggering total of 101,231,026 patients. From that group, 996,290 patients had the diagnosis of “cannabis abuse” versus the 100,234,746 in the control group without it. Researchers also noted cannabis-using patients were younger (34 versus 48 years of age on average), had more men (61.7% versus 41.4%) and more African Americans (29.9% versus 14.2%), compared to the control group.
Authors also observed that cannabis users had a higher tendency to engage in higher-risk behaviors, including alcohol abuse (28% versus 3%) and smoking (44% versus 9%). Viral hepatitis was also more prevalent among cannabis users, which researchers presumed was related to high-risk behaviors like intravenous drug use.
Though the study noted that patients using cannabis were 55% less likely to have HCC, compared to the control group, they cited that this only confirms correlation. Essentially, researchers were unable to confirm a definite, direct causation.
In their discussion of the results, researchers explain that CBD offers one explanation to their observations, “by providing protection against HCC or at least deceleration of disease progression. Furthermore, pharmaceutical development of compounds exerting the dual effect of CB1 antagonism and CB2 agonism can play a major role in the management of liver diseases.”
The authors disclose that the NIS is an administrative database, meant for financial and administrative management rather than for research. That said, they say that the data could vary in the degree of detail and accuracy.
They also say that, among patients with a history of cannabis use, “we cannot determine whether they are actively using cannabis or merely have a remote history of use.”
They also note the limitations of the cross-sectional study design, with potential recall bias in reporting exposures. This model also didn’t allow researchers to draw direct causation effects.
“Hence, we suggest prospective clinical studies to further understand the mechanism by which various active ingredients, particularly CBD in cannabis, may possibly regulate hepatocellular carcinoma development,” they conclude.
Other recent studies have demonstrated that cannabinoid-based therapies can stop liver cancer growth. Moving beyond the liver, studies have also shown the efficacy of cannabis treatments to kill colon, pancreatic, and breast cancer cells.
Will the future offer an array of preventative cannabis and CBD treatments for those more likely to develop HCC and similar cancers? Of course, this early research is only scratching the surface of the topic and potential cannabis has to offer, but it offers a solid foundation for future research and hopefully opens the door to more breakthroughs.
A study released last week has determined that cancer patients who used medical cannabis reported less pain and reduced their need for powerful opiate painkillers. The research also found that medical cannabis (MC) was well tolerated and reduced other cancer-related symptoms, according to a report on the study by Neuroscience News.
“The results of this study suggest that MC treatment is generally safe for oncology patients and can potentially reduce the burden of associated symptoms with no serious MC-related adverse effects,” the authors wrote in an abstract for the study, which was published by the peer-reviewed journal Frontiers in Pain Research.
The study was conducted by a team of Israeli researchers, who noted that the use of medical cannabis by cancer patients is on the rise. However, there is a lack of long-term clinical trials to assess the safety and efficacy of medical weed for patients undergoing treatment for cancer.
“Traditionally, cancer-related pain is mainly treated by opioid analgesics, but most oncologists perceive opioid treatment as hazardous, so alternative therapies are required,” explained researcher David Meiri, assistant professor at the Technion Israel Institute of Technology and one of the study’s authors. “Our study is the first to assess the possible benefits of medical cannabis for cancer-related pain in oncology patients; gathering information from the start of treatment, and with repeated follow-ups for an extended period of time, to get a thorough analysis of its effectiveness.”
Study co-author Gil Bar-Sela, associate professor at the Ha’Emek Medical Center Afula, said that many cancer patients expressed the desire for alternatives to opiates, which carry a high risk of addiction. Feedback from patients inspired the team of researchers to investigate the benefits of medical cannabis.
“We encountered numerous cancer patients who asked us whether medical cannabis treatment can benefit their health,” said Bar-Sela. “Our initial review of existing research revealed that actually not much was known regarding its effectiveness, particularly for the treatment of cancer-related pain, and of what was known, most findings were inconclusive.”
To complete the study, the researchers recruited oncologists who have been certified to issue licenses to use medical cannabis to their patients. The oncologists then referred patients who were interested in the study to the researchers. The oncologists also assisted by reporting the traits of their patients’ cancer to the researchers as the study progressed.
“Patients completed anonymous questionnaires before starting treatment, and again at several time points during the following six months,” Bar-Sela noted. “We gathered data on a number of factors, including pain measures, analgesics consumption, cancer symptom burden, sexual problems, and side effects.”
Nearly Half of Patients Ended Their Use of Painkillers
Analysis of the collected data revealed an improvement in many outcome measurements, including a reduction in pain and other symptoms of cancer. The researchers also noticed a reduction in the use of opiates and other painkillers, with nearly half of the patients in the study reporting they had stopped using analgesic painkillers after six months of using medical cannabis.
However, the researchers did not see evidence of other positive outcomes that have been previously associated with the use of medical pot by cancer patients.
“Medical cannabis has been suggested as a possible remedy for appetite loss, however, most patients in this study still lost weight,” said Meiri. “As a substantial portion were diagnosed with progressive cancer, a weight decline is expected with disease progression.”
“Interestingly, we found that sexual function improved for most men, but worsened for most women,” Meiri continued.
The researchers suggested further study, including research into the effectiveness of medical cannabis for patients with different types of cancer.
“Although our study was very comprehensive and presented additional perspectives on medical cannabis, the sex, age, and ethnicity, as well as cancer types and the stage of the cancer meant the variety of patients in our study was wide-ranging,” explained Meiri. “Therefore, future studies should investigate the level of effectiveness of medicinal cannabis in specific subgroups of cancer patients with more shared characteristics.”
The findings are consistent with other research, including a separate study published earlier this year that found that patients with osteoarthritis (OA), the most common form of arthritis, also saw a reduction in their use of pain medications after beginning treatment with medical cannabis.
“Our findings indicate that providing access to MC, helps patients with chronic pain due to OA reduce their levels of opioid usage in addition to improving pain and QoL [quality of life]. Furthermore, a majority of patients did not feel intoxicated or high from MC, and of those who did, only a small percentage said it interfered with their daily activities,” the authors wrote in the study, as quoted by the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. “Our findings support the literature in that MC reduces the use of opioids for the treatment of chronic pain.”
Andrew Baines, 46, father of two and medical cannabis patient in the U.K., faced a terrible fate for also being a cannabis caregiver. Namely 15 years in prison.
Baines was arrested in April 2020 after police in Lincoln in the east Midlands, found a kilogram of cannabis (worth about $12,000) and thirty plants in his home. The police visited his house after postal workers became suspicious of one of his deliveries to a patient.
His network was vast. Baines personally supplied hundreds of patients with medical cannabis oil as part of an underground network—similar to ones everywhere in the world at the moment where cannabis remains out of reach for those who need it most.
That said, after his arrest, Baines commented that the police tried to avoid seeking a heavy prosecution against him. Hundreds of testimonials were written on his behalf by his grateful patients.
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has now decided not to pursue charges as a result—instead, giving Baines a six-month community order—the lowest punishment.
During her ruling at Grimsby Magistrates Court, Geraldine Kelly, the deputy district judge commented that “If the law was different, Mr. Baines would have been applauded, not punished.”
Baines’s solicitor, Hannah Sampson, a part of the criminal defense team at Mackrell Solicitors, a prominent British law firm with a strong cannabis practice, was shocked.
“I have never seen a six-month community order imposed. If you steal a sandwich from Tesco, you get 12 months,” she said. Sampson also added that “Cases like this are fundamental in taking this back down to grassroots so the police and the prosecution are making the right decisions. This case, perhaps, earmarks a wind of change. This case, perhaps, means that finally, the law will catch up with the enormity of what cannabis can do to save lives.”
The court ruling comes one day after the British National Drugs Summit, which this year saw the government vow to crack down on “middle class drug use,” and policing and crime minister Kit Malthouse again vocally opposing mayor of London Sadiq Khan’s plan to loosen laws around cannabis consumption and possession.
Cannabis Reform in the U.K.
The U.K. is now in the uncomfortable, slippery slope that has faced every other legalizing country. Namely, where does one draw a line on criminal behavior since some reform has already taken place—but not enough to help the vast majority of potential patients.
After all, medical cannabis use, even of the high THC kind, is legal in the U.K. There are several trials underway where patients can obtain the drug legally and for a discount.
Beyond this, CBD is now a regulated industry.
The problem, as it is almost everywhere else, is that most doctors remain leery of prescribing the drug and the National Health Service, or NHS, is not reimbursing patients—including for use with chronic pain—the most widely cited reason for cannabis use.
There are burgeoning projects all around the U.K., some on the mainland and some just off the coast—notably the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man, where medical cannabis cultivation and extraction is fully underway. In fact, on Guernsey, officials are even considering recreational use.
In the U.K. it is very clear that patients have been the ones to move the needle of progress. At first it was the prospect of children with epilepsy dying and their parents going to jail for importing CBD oil from Canada and the E.U. that began to convince politicians that a change was needed.
It has just gone beyond that now. This latest case, which clearly involves both THC and adult users, may indeed prove to be an important bellwether case that changes the political debate.
From the perspective of the CPS at least, it may well be that this sea change is actually well underway.
Grant funds will soon be available to researchers who are working to treat cannabis.
A “Notice of Special Interest” (NOSI) (entitled “Basic Mechanisms of Cannabis and Cannabinoid Action in Cancer”) was posted on May 5 by NIH’s National Cancer Institute, with the intent “to promote research in understanding the mechanisms by which cannabis and cannabinoids affect cancer biology, cancer interception, cancer treatment and resistance, and management of cancer symptoms.”
In the notice, NIH explains that the reasoning behind this effort is due to the growing number of cancer patients seeking relief with medical cannabis, but that there are not enough studies to verify its effectiveness. “Cancer patients use cannabis and cannabinoids to manage symptoms of cancer and cancer treatment including anorexia, nausea, and pain,” the NOSI states. “Recent survey evidence suggests that a quarter of cancer patients have used cannabis for symptom management. Despite the increase in cannabis and cannabinoid use, research about their health effects, including potential harms and benefits, remain limited.”
The notice summarizes what is currently known about cannabis cancer treatment by explaining that data regarding risk for cancer patients is not widely available. “Epidemiological studies of cannabis use and cancer risk have yielded limited and inconsistent results,” the notice explains. “While cannabis smoke generates many of the same carcinogens as tobacco, studies to date have not shown a link between cannabis smoking and lung cancer risk.” The notice uses the example of cannabis smoking being linked to testicular cancer as well.
It also briefly defines the activity of various cannabinoid receptors in the human body through animal models and cancer cell lines. “Cancer cell line experiments show that THC and CBD can mediate many anti-tumor effects, including inducing apoptosis and inhibiting cell proliferation, invasion, and angiogenesis,” the NOSI states. “These anti-tumor activities have led to early clinical testing of THC and CBD for glioblastoma and prostate cancers. While preclinical studies show differing effects of cannabinoids on cancer cells, deeper understanding is needed about how the tumor promoting and suppressive mechanisms of cannabinoid signaling influence cancer biological processes.”
Finally, the notice summarizes the current state of Food and Drug Administration-approved synthetic cannabinoids, dronabinol and nabilone, that are being used to treat chemotherapy. “Increasingly, cancer treatments involve targeted and immunological therapies, but little is known about whether and how cannabis and cannabinoids influence their efficacy.”
The NOSI concludes by inviting researchers whose focus on these topics (Cancer Risk, Cannabinoid Ligands and Receptors, Cancer Biology, Cancer Treatment and Symptom Management) can lead to a wide variety of research opportunities.
The NIH won’t consider any applications for studies that include clinical trials, “symptoms not related to cancer or cancer treatment,” or “projects that lack cancer models, specimens, or cells.” Instead the agency is looking for more specific methods of study in order for researchers to be considered. “Studies that integrate expertise from multiple disciplines, incorporate state-of-the-art, human-relevant models (e.g., organoid or patient-derived xenograft models) and utilize advanced technologies and methods are strongly encouraged.” Researchers can apply for a grant starting on June 5 and onward.
In December 2021, the NCIreleased a paper addressing the challenges that are holding back cannabis and cannabinoid research. “Conflicting federal and state cannabis regulations hinder research in several ways including the inability of researchers to access products that are legal in their state, a lack of standardization and quality control of cannabis and cannabis-derived products within and across states, and no national oversight of this standardization and quality control or the industry.”
Although government agencies have conducted limited studies in the past in relation to medical cannabis, many other study efforts have begun to explore cannabis consumption among cancer patients. The Virginia Commonwealth University of Massey Cancer Center published a study in August 2021 and found that cancer patients consume less cannabis than those of the general public. A study published in December 2020 found that one-third of Canadian cancer patients were reporting cannabis use as well.
*** THIS IS A PRESS RELEASE *** Cannabotech is advancing in the development of botanical medicine for cancer:It reports obtaining a worldwide exclusive license to use a unique fungus for the development and commercialization of products for the treatment of pancreatic and colon cancers
The studied fungus was found effective in killing pancreatic cancer cells and reducing the extent of cancerous tumors in animals; Cannabotech estimates it will present a prototype of the drug as early as the first half of 2023;
Herzliya, Israel – 2 January 2022 – Cannabotech, which develops, among other things, medical cannabis-based products and fungal extracts, reports it received exclusive use of a patent for the development of drugs based on the extract of Cyathus striatus fungus. The fungus is being researched in the laboratory of Professor Fouad Fares, an expert in molecular biology and cancer research at the Faculty of Natural Sciences at the University of Haifa.
According to the agreement signed between Cannabotech and Carmel, the economic company of the University of Haifa, Cannabotech will develop a botanical drug for pancreatic and colon cancers, based on a combination of cannabinoids from the cannabis plant with the fungus extract researched in Professor Fares’ laboratory, which has shown promising results and found to be effective in killing pancreatic and colon cancer cells, and reducing the extent of cancerous tumors in animals, without damaging healthy tissues.
Dr. Alex Weissman, an expert in organic chemistry and former director of R&D at the Chimagis Active Ingredients Factory (API), and Dr. Isaac Angel, an expert pharmacologist with more than 15 years of experience in leading drug development processes, will assist Cannabotech in the research process.
A few days ago, Cannabotech reported the results of a study according to which its CannaboBreast product for the treatment of breast cancer, based on a unique combination of cannabinoids and terpenes from the cannabis plant, combined with standard chemotherapy, resulted in an improvement of up to 6-fold in the killing of cancer cells compared to existing treatment (from 10% to 60% cancer cell mortality).
Cannabotech CEO Elhanan Shaked said: “Cannabotech continues to advance according to its business plan. Along with our preventative medicine products that are already available today, we are operating in the medium-long term in a variety of clinical trials, the most significant of which is the development of a botanical drug for cancer-based on a unique combination of cannabinoids with the Cyathus striatus fungus.”
Professor Fouad Fares said: “We are pleased with the results achieved so far in animals and the critical reduction in the extent of cancerous tumors and with improved cancer cells’ mortality. The collaboration with Cannabotech enables us to accelerate the research and development process.”
Cannabotech is an Israeli biomedical company that develops botanical solutions for preventive medicine and integrative medicine. These solutions are based on combinations of active agents from the cannabis plant and fungi that work on two central systems in the human body: the endocannabinoid system and the immune system.
As part of the concept of integrative medicine, in the last two years, Cannabotech has been developing a series of 8 preparations based on unique combinations of botanicals from medical cannabis and fungus-based products, designed to help patients with cancer and chronic pain. Upon completion of their development, the company’s goal is to designate the products to be integrated into oncology patients’ existing treatment protocol.
At the same time, Cannabotech is working to develop a defined treatment protocol made available to physicians and technology for treatment customization.
Having questions, whether you’re an old or new cannabis user, is completely normal. It’s confusing when we talk about hemp, cannabidiol, CBD, cannabis and THC, and how they can all have different effects — especially when they are all linked back to cannabis. Here, we’ll go over everything you should know about CBD, and how […]
Some rock stars aren’t just rocking the stage — they also rock their own cannabis business. With the creativity and empathy-enhancing effects, it makes sense why many musicians are open about their love of Mary Jane, whether for creativity, medical reasons, or just for fun. You may have heard of brands like Leafs by Snoop, TICAL, […]
A new study conducted in Virginia has found that the general public currently consumes more cannabis than cancer patients.
The Virginia Commonwealth University of Massey Cancer Center (VCU) published a study in the journal Cancer on August 13, entitled “Cannabis use among cancer survivors in the United States: Analysis of a nationally representative sample,” which analyzed data from 19,055 people over a four-year period.
Lead author of the study, Bernard Fuemmeler, Ph.D., M.P.H., who also holds the titles of associate director for population science and interim co-leader of the Cancer Prevention and Control research program at VCU expressed his surprise when they conclude their results. “Even when we looked at whether someone used cannabis over the four years of observation and we control for things like age and race, cancer patients are still not increasing their use over time like the general population,” he said. “I would have expected them to have at least mirrored what was happening in the general population.”
The study analyzed data collected between 2013 and 2018, which was a monumental time frame for cannabis legalization and growth of the industry. Data was collected from the Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health, which surveys Americans’ smoking habits both in the vein of tobacco and cannabis. A VCU diagram shows that only nine percent of cancer patients consume cannabis within the four-year period, whereas 14 percent of the general public stated that they consumed.
Because of the industry boom during the study’s four-year time frame, study co-author Sunny Jung Kim, Ph. D., and also Harrison Scholar at VCU Massey Cancer Center and assistant professor of health behavior and policy at the VCU School of Medicine, explains that the stigma against cannabis begins to be lifted, both with recreational consumers as well as medical patients. “Because of law enforcement changing, we expect to see changes in attitudes and perceived benefits and harms. This work gives us perspective on prevalence of cannabis use among cancer patients and how it has changed over time.”
One assertion as to why cancer patients are not consuming more cannabis today, according to Fuemmeler, is because of hesitation. “There is that element of a life-changing moment when you have cancer,” said Fuemmeler. “You have to be mindful of your health and contemplate whether something like cannabis is helpful or hurtful.” The study results revealed, unsurprisingly, that people who experience higher amounts of pain are more likely to use cannabis. On the other hand, women, the elderly and people with “higher incomes, medical insurance or better mental health” were more likely to have lower levels of pain.
As is common in cannabis studies, the VCU researchers believe that more research is necessary to achieve better results. “As with all health decisions, it’s best to talk to your doctor before making any big changes,” said another study co-author, Egidio Del Fabbro, M.D. professor of internal medicine at VCU. “Now that marijuana is becoming legal in more parts of the country, we’re expecting more questions, and although we may not have all the answers, we’re here to listen and provide our patients with the best available evidence.”
The study of the relationship of cannabis and cancer has made increasing headway over the past few years. One Canadian study published in December 2020 found that more Canadians with cancer were using cannabis than in previous years. Another more recent study from July found that 71 percent of gynecological cancer patients found relief when consuming cannabis. The American Cancer Society writes that based on small studies, cannabis has been known to help treat patients experiencing nausea and vomiting from chemotherapy, neuropathic pain, increase their appetites, reduce the need for pain medication and more.
THCA, or tetrahydrocannabinolic acid, is a relatively unknown compound found in the cannabis plant. Research on this cannabinoid is quite promising, despite the fact that it’s still mostly uncharted territory. However, one of the most hopeful studies to date is a new one from Israel that suggests THCA could be beneficial in the treatment of drug resistant tumors.
Medical cannabis has come a long way. From SciCann and its new-age THCA cancer treatments, to delta-8 THC – an alternative to delta-9, which won’t cause anxiety, and leaves users with a clear-headed high, and slightly less psychoactive effect.New cannabis technology means new and improved products for consumers, and that’s good for you. If you want to try what today’s world of cannabis technology has to offer, subscribe toThe CBD Flowers Weekly Newsletter for more articles, exclusive deals, and to take advantage of today’s best advancements in cannabis products. Or you can check out the Delta 8 Weekly Newsletter for the best deals on Delta 8 THC.
What is THCA?
Everyone’s heard of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) but most people don’t know about its precursor compound, THCA, which is found only in raw cannabis plants. As the buds dry, cure, or when heat is applied, THCA eventually turns into THC. This process – when THCA loses its carboxyl acid group – is known as decarboxylation. Contrary to popular belief, THC actually isn’t found in fresh flowers.
If you’ve ever bought cannabis from a dispensary that sends their bud out for lab-testing, you may have noticed that somewhere on the package it will have the “THC content” listed. It’s labeled this way because, presumably, the consumer is going to smoke, vape, or otherwise heat the product in some way. However, it would be more accurate to label it as “THCa content” since the flowers are raw when purchased.
For many years, this acid compound has been largely ignored and the central focus was on THC and finding ways to vilify it. Thankfully now, we’re starting to make great strides in the way of cannabis research and medical researchers are starting to look at the unique benefits of multiple cannabinoids, including THCA.
Unlike its decarbed counterpart, THCA is non-psychoactive, although very relaxing, and it does have numerous medical benefits. THCA can help with pain, inflammation, and neurological disorders like epilepsy. It has been found to contain neuroprotective qualities and can be a helpful compound in the treatment of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Multiple Sclerosis. Also, in addition to the research I’m covering in this particular article, previous studies have suggested that THCA has some level of anti-cancer properties.
In the United States alone, an estimated 1,806,590 new cases of cancer will be diagnosed in the coming year, and out of those cases, 606,520 will die from the disease or a related complication. The most common cancers, in descending order, are breast, lung, prostate, colon, melanoma, bladder, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, kidney/renal, endometrial, leukemia, pancreatic, thyroid, and liver cancer. In women, the most commonly diagnosed cancers are breast, lung, and colorectal, while for men the most common are prostate, lung, and colorectal. These 4 different types of cancer account for roughly 50% of all new cases.
Despite living in a nation that prides itself on having the best medical care on earth, cancer mortality rates remain high. For men, the number rate of death is higher with 190 per 100,000 – compared to 136 per 100,000 for women. There are race discrepancies as well, with cancer mortality being highest in African American men (227 per 100,000) and lowest in Asian/Pacific Islander women (86 per 100,000).
Approximately 40 percent of American adults will be diagnosed with cancer at some point during their lives and an estimated 16,850 children and adolescents between the ages of 0 to 19 will receive a diagnosis. The cost of national cancer-related expenditures is around $160 billion. These numbers are all estimated to increase over the coming decades as a result of an aging population and exposure to environmental and dietary carcinogens.
Worldwide, cancer is among the leading causes of death. Every year around 18 million people are diagnosed with cancer, with roughly 9.5 million deaths. Generally, cancer rates are highest in countries whose populations have the highest life expectancy, education level, and standard of living, which tells us a few different things.
First, the obvious, incidence rates for cancer go up as age increases, so naturally, a population with a larger number of older citizens will have higher rates of cancer as well. Now, the less obvious, people living in more developed nations live in a more sedentary way and are exposed to many unnatural compounds over the course of their lives, many of which are carcinogenic. People living a simpler and more natural lifestyle are typically healthier overall.
Multiple Drug Resistance
Although the number of available cancer treatments is growing, long term survival rates for patients undergoing traditional chemotherapy remain suboptimal. A major factor impacting the effectiveness of chemotherapy is the development of resistance to a variety of anticancer drugs. This is referred to as Multiple Drug Resistance (MDR) and it occurs in over 50 percent of cancer patients who experience a recurrence. Recurrence, coupled with MDR, greatly increases the risk of mortality.
According to the study, “The dominant mechanism behind Multi Drug Resistance involves active extrusion of the cytotoxic drugs from the tumor cells by dedicated efflux pump proteins, that reduces the intracellular levels of cytotoxic drugs below lethal thresholds. Blocking the flow of chemotherapeutic drugs out of MDR cells by efflux pump inhibition has been for long a highly desirable approach for tumor resistance reversal, however the first two generations of chemosensitizers, drawn from drugs approved for other indications and their derivatives, did not progress to become established clinical modalities, mainly due to adverse effects and toxicity.”
Simply put, MDR occurs via the increased release of drugs (chemotherapy drugs in this case) outside the cells, so drug absorption is reduced within the cells. There are many different mechanisms at play here, but the main point is that MDR is responsible for over 90 percent of deaths in cancer patients on chemotherapy drugs, and a solution to this problem is of utmost importance.
About the Study
According to this study, which was completed by SciCann Therapeutics in Israel, the THCA class of cannabinoids has potential as an MDR pump inhibitor, one that’s non-toxic, non-psychoactive, and free of dangerous side effects. Research on the subject is limited, but this particular study is very informative with incredibly promising results.
According to Professor Dan Peer from Faculty of Life Sciences at Tel Aviv University, “ the goal was to discover a set of potent cannabinoid compounds that would be safe and non-toxic for clinical use, however would show high efficacy in blocking cancer cell efflux pumps.” SciCann’s aims to develop a first in class cannabinoid “chemosensitizng agent to be administered as an add-on therpay together with traditional chemotherpay, for patients who have developed a Multi Drug Resistance cancer type and thus restore tumor response levels to therapy.”
This first test was conducted on the human ovarian adenocarcinoma resistant cell line (NAR) and its non-resistant parent line (OVCAR-8). MDR is one of the most common causes of chemotherapy failure in patients with ovarian cancer as well as secondary treatment failure that can lead to devastating outcomes.
SciCann’s research program has already discovered numerous cannabinoids that can act as MDR efflux pump inhibitors. However, the most effective was THCA, which, according to their documents, “has demonstarted a very significant effect of efflux pump inhibition and synergistic activity with traditional chemotherapies”.
This study does not peg THCA as a cure for cancer, but rather as a treatment option that, when combined with other traditional cancer therapies, could greatly increase the likely hood of treatment success and a person’s chances for survival. In short, THCA can be used to re-sensitize tumors that have been previously unresponsive to other treatments.
SciCann has filed a very broad patent application that covers “any pharmaceutical composition that contains a combination of THCA and any anti-cancer or anti-bacterial drug substance, as well as the method of using THCA as a tumor cell or pathogen cell sensitizing agent. The international PCT patent office has found no relevant prior art in the literature for the THCA – chemo or antibiotics combination, or for the use of THCA as a chemo and antibiotics sensitizing agent, and therefore declared the invention as novel and patentable.”
Main Takeaway – THCA for Drug Resistant Cancer
THCA alone doesn’t kill cancer, at least, not according to this study. It does, however, help traditional chemotherapy and other cancer immunotherapy treatments work more efficiently by bypassing any existing Multi Drug Resistance, that is common in roughly half of all cancer patients. A combination of standard cancer therapies along with THCA could allow doctors to give much smaller doses of chemotherapy drugs to their patients, minimizing the risk of dangerous side effects and making survival much more likely.
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