Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main psychoactive ingredient of the cannabis plant, has been approved for treatment of chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, as well as for appetite stimulation, and is available as a prescription medication. Sativex®, a cannabinoid medicine containing THC and CBD in equal proportions, is also available for treatment of spasticity in multiple sclerosis and in development for treating cancer pain.
However, growing evidence suggests that cannabis and its component cannabinoids can also have direct anti-tumour effects. Numerous recent studies have shown that THC and CBD exhibit anti-tumour effects in a wide array of animal models of cancer, and recent in vitro observations support that the combined administration of cannabinoids with other anticancer drugs acts synergistically to reduce tumour growth.
Below is a useful inforgraphic by Jason Adams, illustrating the anti-cancer effects of cannabis.
In collaboration with Profs Manuel Guzman and Guillermo Velasco at Madrid Complutense University, we plan to investigate the anti-cancer properties of cannabis and its individual cannabinoids, with the aim of establishing the most effective combination of cannabinoids. Together with the Spanish Group of Neurooncology (GEINO), Profs Guzman and Velasco will conduct a clinical trial in 4 centres in Spain. In this study, patients with newly diagnosed glioblastoma (brain tumour) will receive cannabinoids in combination with traditional anticancer drugs and radiation therapy. Results will help clarify the question of whether cannabinoids can be used to fight cancer.
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