U.K.: Study Shows Marijuana Compounds Can Kill Cancer Cells
By Steve Elliott
A scientist at the University of London's St. George School of Medicine has found that cannabinoids from marijuana can kill cancerous cells found in people with leukemia, a form of cancer which kills 24,000 people each year in the United States.
"Cannabinoids have a complex action; it hits a number of important processes that cancers need to survive," said study author Dr. Wai Liu, an oncologist, reports Matt Ferner at 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," Dr. Liu said.
The study was recently published in the journal Anticancer Research. It was funded by GW Pharmaceuticals, which makes a marijuana-derived nasal spray, Sativex, that is used to treat spasticity caused by multiple sclerosis.
The study examined six different non-psychoactive cannabinoids, which unlike THC, don't get you high. The cannabinoids were examined alone and in combination; they displayed "a diverse range of therapeutic qualities" that "target and switch off" pathways, preventing cancer from growing, according to U.S. News and World Report.
The six cannabinoids studied by Liu and his team were cannabidiol (CBD), casnnabidiolic acid (CBDA), cannabigerol (CBG), cannabigerolic acid (CBGA), cannabigevarin (CBGV), and cannabigevaric acid (CBGVA). The cannabinoids appeared to be even more effective in combination with each other than alone.
Liu said that he hopes to start clinical trials involving humans in 12 to 18 months.