Cannabis phytochemical shown to shrink brain tumors
A study conducted at the Complutense University in Madrid, Spain, showed that a cannabis extract contains cannabinoids, chemicals that shrink brain tumors by halting blood vessel growth. Dr. Manuel Guzman and his research team experimented with mice and two human patients who had glioblastoma multiforme, a difficult cancer to treat, and who had not responded to chemotherapy, radiotherapy or surgery. Both patients then experienced reduced vascular endothelial growth (VEGF) in the tumor because the cannabinoids halted the VEGF production by producing Ceramide (which controls cell growth).
- Researchers in Spain have discovered that a cannabis extract makes brain tumors shrink by halting the growth of blood vessels that supply the tumors with life.
- Cannabis has chemicals called cannabinoids, these are the chemicals that could effectively starve tumors to death, say the researchers.
- The study was carried out at the Complutense University, Madrid, Spain.
- The team used mice to demonstrate that the cannabinoids block vessel growth.
- The Spanish team, led by Dr Manuel Guzmán, wanted to see whether they could prevent glioblastoma multiforme cancer from growing by cutting off its blood supply.
- Glioblastoma multiforme is one of the most difficult cancers to treat — it seldom responds to any medical intervention, such as radiotherapy, chemotherapy and surgery.
- The scientists knew that cannabinoids will block the growth of blood vessels (to tumors) in mice — they wanted to find out whether the same thing would happen with humans.
- The genes associated with blood vessel growth in tumors through the production of a chemical called vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) had their activity reduced.
- Cannabinoids halt VEGF production by producing Ceramide.
- They selected two patients who had glioblastoma multiforme and had not responded to chemotherapy, radiotherapy or surgery.
- Amazingly, both patients experienced reduced VEGF levels in the tumor as a result of treatment with cannabinoids.
- The researchers said that the results were encouraging.
- In order to be sure about their findings they need to carry out a larger study, they said.
- Dr Guzmán said “The present findings provide a novel pharmacological target for cannabinoid-based therapies.”