The glioma brain tumor just got a new enemy in the combined power of THC and TMZ.
Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), or grade IV glioma brain tumor, is one of the most frequently seen of malignant brain tumors. As well as being one of the most aggressive forms of cancers, it is also very infiltrative as it spreads around the brain at a frightening pace. Even though glioblastomas don’t metastasize (or spread) outside of the brain they can happen in any brain lobe and even the brain stem and cerebellum. However they are most commonly found in the frontal and temporal lobe. And this ruthless form of cancer has an average survival rate of twelve to fifteen months, following diagnosis.
Current Treatments are not Enough
Current treatment includes palliative care, focal radiotherapy, and surgery. Removing the tumor completely is often impossible due to close proximity to vital brain structures. A large number of the chemotherapeutic agents, such as temozolomide (TMZ), underwent trials, but these have limited efficacy. GBM is in desperate need of novel treatments that will increase survival rates, and hopefully cannabis could be it.
Combined Therapy Produced Incredible Results
One of the most active areas of cannabis research is in combined treatment, especially for the treatment of cancer. THC combined with TMZ underwent animal trials, resulting in some shockingly positive results.
The basis of THC’s anti-tumor action rests in inducing autophagy within the cancer cell. This is where cancer essentially targets itself for destruction by lysosomes. Mechanisms of CBD’s anti-cancer action are not as clear in the glioma brain tumor, but there are theories that the non-intoxicating cannabinoid responds to reactive oxygen species produced by glioma brain tumor cells. CBD then signals apoptosis of the cancer cells.
To test the efficacy of the synergistic effects created by THC and TMZ, tumor-bearing lab mice received injections with the individual agent THC (15mg/kg), TMZ (5mg/kg); and then some mice with the combination of the two (same dose as individual treatment).
The size of the tumors were under analysis and measured for fifteen days and the results were amazing. The tumor weight and volume significantly decreased with the combination treatment of the THC and TMZ, significantly more than with each individual treatment.
What is Happening to Kill so Many Glioma Brain Tumor Cells?
After an evaluation, research suggests the mechanism of the THC-TMZ combination therapy strongly enhances the autophagy and apoptosis of the glioma brain tumor cells. This mechanistic study was in vitro, using the xenograft cells (the cells from the tumor).
To test if CBD engaged in the similar pathways, a combined treatment with the THC and CBD also underwent testing in vitro. When using submaximal doses, the combination of the THC and CBD is as effective as using the THC alone, in reducing the growth of the glioma xenografts.
Studies suggest that THC — but not CBD — engages cannabinoid receptors to promote tumor cell death. THC triggers de-novo ceramide synthesis which is what stimulates the cell death. It appears that CBD assists THC in setting up autophagy of the cancer cell. However on its own, the cannabidiol (CBD) doesn’t contribute to the reduction of the tumor growth. THC on the other hand definitively demonstrates contribution to reduction of tumor size in glioblastoma.
The life-threatening issue glioma patients encounter is often resistance to the TMZ agent, which contributes to the poor life prognosis. Patients with this form of brain cancer may see initial results from TMZ, only to have that taper off. The combined treatment, however, of TMZ and cannabinoids, showed tumor growth had been significantly reduced. These results indicate that the presence of cannabinoids overcame the resistance to the TMZ treatment by itself.
Wrap up on Cannabis and TMZ Combo
These characteristics, along with their remarkable anti-cancer activity, make cannabinoids excellent candidates for combination with other neoplastic agents. Results presented here specifically show that co-administration of TMZ with THC, exerts a strong anti-tumor action on glioma xenografts. The same is true for THC and CBD mix. These results prove that using these synergies offers patients a stronger cancer treatment instead of using TMZ alone or an individual cannabinoid therapy.