Cannabis Significantly PreventsTumour Growth in Cancer Patients

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By Indrani Bhattacharyya | July 17, 2014 11:47 AM EST

Through a striking finding, it has been reported that Cannabis can significantly reduce the growth of tumour in cancer patients.

Researchers from University of East Anglia have identified signaling platforms which were previously unknown in the main psychoactive ingredient of cannabis that are majorly responsible for its capability to cause shrinking of tumours.

Reuters
A volunteer displays jars of dried cannabis buds at the La Brea Collective medical marijuana dispensary in Los Angeles, California, March 18, 2014.

Researchers believe the outcome will lead to the development of synthetic equivalents with similar anti-cancer properties.

Universidad Complutense de Madridin, Spain had made collaborative work which has led to this final discovery.

In this work, samples of human breast cancer cells were used to induce tumours in mice. Then, the tumours were targeted with specific doses of the cannabis compound THC or tetrahydrocannabinol. It was found that two cell receptors specifically were responsible for the drug's anti-tumour effects.

"THC, the major active component of marijuana, has anti-cancer properties. This compound is known to act through a specific family of cell receptors called cannabinoid receptors. But it was unclear which of these receptors were responsible for the anti-tumor effects of THC", Peter McCormick from UEA said.

According to him, these results successfully explain some of the well-known but poorly understood effects of THC at low and high doses on tumour growth. The molecular mechanisms behind how marijuana and specifically THC influence cancer pathology are something scientists have been trying to figure out since years.

Through identification of the receptors involved, it also marks an important step towards the future development of therapeutics which can manipulate the advantage of the interactions discovered in this work to reduce tumour growth, he said.

But under any circumstances, cancer sufferer should not try self-medication, McCormick was quoted saying.

"Our research uses an isolated chemical compound and using the correct concentration is vital. Cancer patients should not use cannabis to self-medicate but I hope that our research will lead to a safe synthetic equivalent being available in the future," he concluded.

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(Photo: Reuters / Lucy Nicholson)
A volunteer displays jars of dried cannabis buds at the La Brea Collective medical marijuana dispensary in Los Angeles, California, March 18, 2014.
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