CBD may hold promise for terminal pancreatic cancer patients. Here’s how.
Scientists are learning more about how CBD may potentially treat a wide variety of health problems. And since CBD oil is more easily available due to its widely legalized status, it is becoming even more accessible to researchers for study. Thanks to CBD’s promising safety profile, it also provides a therapeutic option to patients who may be undergoing treatment for serious conditions, like cancer. Recently, researchers at Queen Mary University in London discovered that CBD could potentially prolong the lives of patients suffering from terminal pancreatic cancer.
The place of cannabis in cancer research has changed over the years. Scientists have studied it as a method to simply ease symptoms associated with cancer and the side effects of chemotherapy. Now, they’re more likely to examine cannabis as a method to potentially fight the disease. In multiple animal and in vitro studies, cannabis has shown an ability to potentially lower cancer cell counts and reduce tumors.
This particular study from Queen Mary University shows how CBD may work to extend the lives of terminal pancreatic cancer patients.
How CBD Could Help those Treating Pancreatic Cancer
The study, published in Oncogene (2018), was funded by the Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund. Accordingly, the scientists explored how inhibiting the G protein-coupled receptor GPR55 might reduce pancreatic cancer cell growth in mice.1)Ferro, R., et al. GPR55 Signalling Promotes Proliferation of Pancreatic Cancer Cells and Tumour Growth in Mice, and Its Inhibition Increases Effects of Gemcitabine. Nature News, Nature Publishing Group, 30 July 2018, www.nature.com/articles/s41388-018-0390-1
The researchers studied three population groups of mice, all of which had pancreatic cancer. The groups were separated into the following: untreated mice (control group), mice undergoing chemotherapy only, and mice receiving both CBD and chemotherapy cancer treatment. A CBD extract was used for the study, along with the chemotherapy drug Gemcitabine.
Scientists discovered that the untreated control group experienced the shortest number of survival days. This group exhibited a survival period of an average of twenty days. The mice in the chemotherapy-only group showed a slightly longer survival rate, at a median of twenty-three-and-a-half days. And the mice who were treated with both CBD and chemotherapy? They showed the longest survival rate, at an average fifty-six days. That’s three times longer than chemotherapy alone.
Fighting Cancer Through the GPR55 Receptor
Thanks to cannabis research, we now know that CBD is an antagonist of the G protein-coupled receptor GPR55. A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (2008) found evidence establishing GPR55 as a cannabinoid receptor. By blocking this receptor, CBD can potentially relieve pain and inflammation in the body. And through the conclusions made by the Queen Mary University study, it seems that CBD can also decrease the spread of certain cancer cells.2)Lauckner, Jane E, et al. GPR55 Is a Cannabinoid Receptor That Increases Intracellular Calcium and Inhibits M Current. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, National Academy of Sciences, 19 Feb. 2008, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2268199/
This is promising news for terminal pancreatic cancer patients. The disease is notoriously hard to treat, with a survival rate of only around five years for nine percent of patients. Over the past four decades, scientists have struggled to improve treatment options, or successfully extend the survival rate of patients with this deadly cancer.
However, the Queen Mary University isn’t a slam dunk for pancreatic cancer research. Conversely, not all pancreatic cancers depend on GPR55. Instead, activating the GPR55 receptor damages only a third of pancreatic cancers. Yes, that means CBD could potentially help a third of pancreatic cancer patients. But that’s only if the human study subsequently goes just as well.
How Cannabis Might Change Pancreatic Cancer Treatment
But there is still hope. CBD isn’t the only cannabinoid with exciting discoveries in the world of pancreatic cancer research. Consequently, a study published in the American Association for Cancer Research (2006) concluded that THC could potentially be used to treat this specific form of cancer. By treating a large pancreatic tumor with THC, researchers discovered that THC could induce cancer cell apoptosis and slow the spread of pancreatic cancer cells.3)Carracedo, Arkaitz, et al. Cannabinoids Induce Apoptosis of Pancreatic Tumor Cells via Endoplasmic Reticulum Stress Related Genes. Cancer Research, American Association for Cancer Research, 1 July 2006, cancerres.aacrjournals.org/content/66/13/6748.full
Research has also shown that flavonoids might be beneficial in treating the disease as well. A recent study in Frontiers in Oncology (2019) researched how a flavonoid derived from the cannabis plant could potentially help. Scientists tested a synthetic, non-toxic flavonoid called FBL-03G in vitro and in vivo. They found that FBL-03G could also induce cancer cell death when used in tandem with radiation therapy.4)Moreau, Michele, et al. Flavonoid Derivative of Cannabis Demonstrates Therapeutic Potential in Preclinical Models of Metastatic Pancreatic Cancer. Frontiers in Oncology, Frontiers Media S.A., 23 July 2019, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6663976/
Cancer Treatments of The Future May Feature Cannabis
Along with the current usage of cannabinoids for cancer-related pain, cannabis is paving an altogether new, exciting, path in pancreatic cancer research.
While we still don’t know exactly how cannabis interacts with concurrent pharmaceutical medications, the generally favorable safety profile offers some potential. What these studies show us is there is reason to further research the effects of cannabinoids on cancer therapy.
Altogether, human trials are the next step in diagnosing the actual potential for cannabis to help extend the lives of pancreatic cancer patients.
References [ + ]
|1.||↑||Ferro, R., et al. GPR55 Signalling Promotes Proliferation of Pancreatic Cancer Cells and Tumour Growth in Mice, and Its Inhibition Increases Effects of Gemcitabine. Nature News, Nature Publishing Group, 30 July 2018, www.nature.com/articles/s41388-018-0390-1|
|2.||↑||Lauckner, Jane E, et al. GPR55 Is a Cannabinoid Receptor That Increases Intracellular Calcium and Inhibits M Current. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, National Academy of Sciences, 19 Feb. 2008, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2268199/|
|3.||↑||Carracedo, Arkaitz, et al. Cannabinoids Induce Apoptosis of Pancreatic Tumor Cells via Endoplasmic Reticulum Stress Related Genes. Cancer Research, American Association for Cancer Research, 1 July 2006, cancerres.aacrjournals.org/content/66/13/6748.full|
|4.||↑||Moreau, Michele, et al. Flavonoid Derivative of Cannabis Demonstrates Therapeutic Potential in Preclinical Models of Metastatic Pancreatic Cancer. Frontiers in Oncology, Frontiers Media S.A., 23 July 2019, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6663976/|