02 October 2012

Antitumor properties of marijuana

Shortly before the first debate in the upcoming presidential election cycle scheduled for October 3, in the hope that opponents will express their opinion on the burning issue of marijuana legalization, American journalists are increasingly raising the issue of the antitumor effect of its components.

According to a social survey conducted in 2011, more than 50% of Americans support the reform of the law regulating the circulation of marijuana.

Apparently, there are not so many opponents of this plant left, which may be partly due to its ability to suppress tumor growth and alleviate the side effects of antitumor therapy.

For the first time, the antitumor properties of the active ingredient of marijuana tetrahydrocannabinol were published in 1998 by Cristina Sanchez from the University of Madrid. While conducting experiments devoted to studying the metabolism of human cells of one of the most common types of brain cancer – glioma, she accidentally discovered that under the action of tetrahydrocannabinol, malignant cells die.

Subsequent work carried out by researchers from different countries also demonstrated that both tetrahydrocannabinol and other compounds contained in marijuana (cannabinoids) have a direct antitumor effect.

When conducting the first clinical study of its kind in 2006, Spanish scientists working under the leadership of Manuel Guzman demonstrated that the introduction of tetrahydrocannabinol through a catheter directly into a glioblastoma that did not respond to standard therapies significantly suppressed the proliferation of tumor cells in all patients.

At about the same time, Harvard researchers published data according to which tetrahydrocannabinol slows down the growth of lung cancer and suppresses metastasis, without, unlike traditional therapies, having a detrimental effect on healthy cells.

Dr. Sean McAllister from the Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco has been studying cannabinoids for a long time in order to create new anticancer drugs. He found that the non-psychoactive component of marijuana, cannabidiol, is a powerful inhibitor of the proliferation and metastasis of breast cancer cells.

In 2007, he published an article detailing the mechanism of destruction of breast cancer cells under the action of cannabidiol, suppressing the expression of the ID-1 gene.

The ID-1 gene is active during human embryonic development, after which it is inactivated. However, in breast cancer cells and a number of other malignant neoplasms, this gene resumes its activity, and its protein product plays an important role in ensuring the vital activity of tumor cells.

Currently, McAllister's laboratory is studying the possibilities of using cannabidiol in combination with traditional anticancer drugs. Scientists at the University of London are working in the same direction, who have already demonstrated in preclinical studies that tetrahydrocannabinol increases the effectiveness of traditional methods of treating leukemia. It is quite possible that in the near future, marijuana ingredients will take their rightful place in the arsenal of oncologists.

Evgeniya Ryabtseva
Portal "Eternal youth" http://vechnayamolodost.ru based on the materials of The Daily Beast:
Marijuana Fights Cancer and Helps Manage Side Effects, Researchers Find.

Portal "Eternal youth" http://vechnayamolodost.ru02.10.2012

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