Thursday, April 2, 2009
Press Trust of India
Thursday, April 02, 2009, (New Delhi)
Infamous for being a narcotic agent, marijuana also has anti-cancer properties, which could be used to treat malignant cells in the brain, a new study has claimed.
A team of Spanish researchers have found that Delta9 tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, the main active component of marijuana, induces death of various human brain cancer cell lines and primary cultured human brain cancer cells by a process known as autophagy.
"We found that the anti-tumoral action of THC is based on its ability to activate an intracellular signalling pathway that promotes the activation of a cellular process called 'autophagy'. The activation of this pathway leads to cancer cell death," revealed Guillermo Velasco, a scientist at Madrid-based Complutense University reporting his findings in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.
Two patients with recurrent glioblastoma multiforme (a highly aggressive brain tumor) received THC treatment on the skull and showed signs of autophagy, prompting them to zero upon the curative values of marijuana.
"The potential use of cannabinoid (marijuana) based medicines in now being investigated," commented Velasco.
New clinical trial to ascertain the anti-tumoral qualities in brain tumor patients is underway, Velasco said.
Such Cannabis-based medicine is relatively priced at a lower rate than other anti-cancer drugs currently available in the market, he said.
However, the scientist insists more research is required to fully ascertain the prospect of commercial use of marijuana as an anti-cancer medicine.
"It is difficult to predict whether that (marijuana-based medicines) could have a real impact in the cost of cancer therapies as the future of these treatments is based in combining different agents," added Velasco.
According to the data provided by The International Network for Cancer Treatment and Research (INCTR), approximately 60 per cent of global cancer occurs in developing countries and if it remains unchecked, there might be 20 million new cases per year by 2020.
"If the clinical efficacy of cannabinoid-based medicines delineated in this study can be verified in future clinical trials, these agents could be used for the treatment of cancer in developing countries," said Velasco.
"However, it is difficult to evaluate if the impact of these findings could be higher in these countries than in the rest of the world," added Velaso.
"One important point is that cannabinoid-based medicines should be evaluated according to its efficacy as determined with scientific criteria more than in political considerations," said Velaso stressing that an a-political approach is the key to success of the findings.
Posted by Joe the Stoner at 11:37 PM