Cannabis extracts combined with radiation therapy improve brain
21 November 2014
Research at St George's University of London has shown that when
chemical extracts of cannabis are used to treat cancer tumours
alongside radio therapy the growths can virtually disappear.
Cannabinoids are the active chemicals in cannabis. There
are 85 known cannabinoids in the cannabis plant. Two of these,
tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) were tested as part
of the research into brain cancer.
Brain cancer is particularly difficult to treat and claims
the lives of about 5,200 people in the UK each year. It also has a
particularly poor prognosis as the rate of survival after five years
of patients’ diagnosis is around 10%.
The new research is the first to show a drastic effect when
combining THC and CBD with irradiation. Tumours growing in the
brains of mice were drastically slowed down when THC/CBD was used
Dr Wai Liu, Senior Research Fellow and lead researcher on the
project, said: “The results are extremely exciting. The tumours were
treated in a variety of ways, either with no treatment, the
cannabinoids alone, and irradiation alone or with both the
cannabinoids and irradiation at the same time.
“Those treated with both irradiation and the cannabinoids saw the
most beneficial results and a drastic reduction in size. In some
cases, the tumours effectively disappeared in the animals. This
augurs well for further research in humans in the future. At the
moment this is a mostly fatal disease.
“The benefits of the cannabis plant elements were known before
but the drastic reduction of brain cancers if used with irradiation
is something new and may well prove promising for patients who are
in gravely serious situations with such cancers in the future.”
The research team are discussing the possibility of combining
cannabinoids with irradiation in a human clinical trial.
The research has been published in the journal Molecular