The Effectiveness and Safety of Medical Cannabis for Treating Cancer Related Symptoms in Oncology Patients

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“The use of medical cannabis (MC) to treat cancer-related symptoms is rising. However, there is a lack of long-term trials to assess the benefits and safety of MC treatment in this population. In this work, we followed up prospectively and longitudinally on the effectiveness and safety of MC treatment.

Oncology patients reported on multiple symptoms before and after MC treatment initiation at one-, three-, and 6-month follow-ups. Oncologists reported on the patients’ disease characteristics. Intention-to-treat models were used to assess changes in outcomes from baseline. MC treatment was initiated by 324 patients and 212, 158 and 126 reported at follow-ups.

Most outcome measures improved significantly during MC treatment for most patients (p < 0.005). Specifically, at 6 months, total cancer symptoms burden declined from baseline by a median of 18%, from 122 (82–157) at baseline to 89 (45–138) at endpoint (−18.98; 95%CI= −26.95 to −11.00; p < 0.001). Reported adverse effects were common but mostly non-serious and remained stable during MC treatment.

The results of this study suggest that MC treatment is generally safe for oncology patients and can potentially reduce the burden of associated symptoms with no serious MC-related adverse effects.

The main finding of the current study is that most cancer comorbid symptoms improved significantly during 6 months of MC treatment.

Additionally, we found that MC treatment in cancer patients was well tolerated and safe.”

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35669038/

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpain.2022.861037/full?utm_source=fweb


The Endocannabinoid System as a Pharmacological Target for New Cancer Therapies

“Despite the long history of cannabinoid use for medicinal and ritual purposes, an endogenous system of cannabinoid-controlled receptors, as well as their ligands and the enzymes that synthesise and degrade them, was only discovered in the 1990s. Since then, the endocannabinoid system has attracted widespread scientific interest regarding new pharmacological targets in cancer treatment among other reasons. Meanwhile, extensive preclinical studies have shown that cannabinoids have an inhibitory effect on tumour cell proliferation, tumour invasion, metastasis, angiogenesis, chemoresistance and epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and induce tumour cell apoptosis and autophagy as well as immune response. Appropriate cannabinoid compounds could moreover be useful for cancer patients as potential combination partners with other chemotherapeutic agents to increase their efficacy while reducing unwanted side effects. In addition to the direct activation of cannabinoid receptors through the exogenous application of corresponding agonists, another strategy is to activate these receptors by increasing the endocannabinoid levels at the corresponding pathological hotspots. Indeed, a number of studies accordingly showed an inhibitory effect of blockers of the endocannabinoid-degrading enzymes fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) and monoacylglycerol lipase (MAGL) on tumour development and spread. This review summarises the relevant preclinical studies with FAAH and MAGL inhibitors compared to studies with cannabinoids and provides an overview of the regulation of the endocannabinoid system in cancer.”

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34830856/

Plant-derived cannabinoids as anticancer agents

“Substantial preclinical evidence demonstrates the antiproliferative, cytotoxic, and antimetastatic properties of plant-derived cannabinoids (phytocannabinoids) such as cannabidiol and tetrahydrocannabinol. The cumulative body of research into the intracellular mechanisms and phenotypic effects of these compounds supports a logical, judicious progression to large-scale phase II/III clinical trials in certain cancer types to truly assess the efficacy of phytocannabinoids as anticancer agents.”

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35260379/

Cannabinoids as anticancer drugs: current status of preclinical research

“Drugs that target the endocannabinoid system are of interest as pharmacological options to combat cancer and to improve the life quality of cancer patients. From this perspective, cannabinoid compounds have been successfully tested as a systemic therapeutic option in a number of preclinical models over the past decades. As a result of these efforts, a large body of data suggests that the anticancer effects of cannabinoids are exerted at multiple levels of tumour progression via different signal transduction mechanisms. Accordingly, there is considerable evidence for cannabinoid-mediated inhibition of tumour cell proliferation, tumour invasion and metastasis, angiogenesis and chemoresistance, as well as induction of apoptosis and autophagy. Further studies showed that cannabinoids could be potential combination partners for established chemotherapeutic agents or other therapeutic interventions in cancer treatment. Research in recent years has yielded several compounds that exert promising effects on tumour cells and tissues in addition to the psychoactive Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol, such as the non-psychoactive phytocannabinoid cannabidiol and inhibitors of endocannabinoid degradation. This review provides an up-to-date overview of the potential of cannabinoids as inhibitors of tumour growth and spread as demonstrated in preclinical studies.”

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35277658/

Cannabidiol and Other Phytocannabinoids as Cancer Therapeutics

“Preclinical models provided ample evidence that cannabinoids are cytotoxic against cancer cells. Among the best studied phytocannabinoids, cannabidiol (CBD) is most promising for the treatment of cancer as it lacks the psychotomimetic properties of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). In vitro studies and animal experiments point to a concentration- (dose-)dependent anticancer effect. The effectiveness of pure compounds versus extracts is the subject of an ongoing debate. Actual results demonstrate that CBD-rich hemp extracts must be distinguished from THC-rich cannabis preparations. Whereas pure CBD was superior to CBD-rich extracts in most in vitro experiments, the opposite was observed for pure THC and THC-rich extracts, although exceptions were noted. The cytotoxic effects of CBD, THC and extracts seem to depend not only on the nature of cannabinoids and the presence of other phytochemicals but also largely on the nature of cell lines and test conditions. Neither CBD nor THC are universally efficacious in reducing cancer cell viability. The combination of pure cannabinoids may have advantages over single agents, although the optimal ratio seems to depend on the nature of cancer cells; the existence of a ‘one size fits all’ ratio is very unlikely. As cannabinoids interfere with the endocannabinoid system (ECS), a better understanding of the circadian rhythmicity of the ECS, particularly endocannabinoids and receptors, as well as of the rhythmicity of biological processes related to the growth of cancer cells, could enhance the efficacy of a therapy with cannabinoids by optimization of the timing of the administration, as has already been reported for some of the canonical chemotherapeutics. Theoretically, a CBD dose administered at noon could increase the peak of anandamide and therefore the effects triggered by this agent. Despite the abundance of preclinical articles published over the last 2 decades, well-designed controlled clinical trials on CBD in cancer are still missing. The number of observations in cancer patients, paired with the anticancer activity repeatedly reported in preclinical in vitro and in vivo studies warrants serious scientific exploration moving forward.”

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35244889/

Cannabis as a potential compound against various malignancies, legal aspects, advancement by exploiting nanotechnology and clinical trials

“Various preclinical and clinical studies exhibited the potential of cannabis against various diseases, including cancer and related pain. Subsequently, many efforts have been made to establish and develop cannabis-related products and make them available as prescription products. Moreover, FDA has already approved some cannabis-related products, and more advancement in this aspect is still going on. However, the approved product of cannabis is in oral dosage form, which exerts various limitations to achieve maximum therapeutic effects. A considerable translation is on a hike to improve bioavailability, and ultimately, the therapeutic efficacy of cannabis by the employment of nanotechnology. Besides the well-known psychotropic effects of cannabis upon the use at high doses, literature has also shown the importance of cannabis and its constituents in minimising the lethality of cancer in the preclinical models. This review discusses the history of cannabis, its legal aspect, safety profile, the mechanism by which cannabis combats with cancer, and the advancement of clinical therapy by exploiting nanotechnology. A brief discussion related to the role of cannabinoid in various cancers has also been incorporated. Lastly, the information regarding completed and ongoing trials have also been elaborated.”

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35321629/

Chemical characterization of non-psychoactive Cannabis sativa L. extracts, in vitro antiproliferative activity and induction of apoptosis in chronic myelogenous leukaemia cancer cells

“In this study, extracts from non-psychoactive Cannabis sativa L. varieties were characterized by means of ultra high-performance liquid chromatography coupled with high-resolution mass spectrometry (UHPLC-HRMS) and their antiproliferative activity was assessed in vitro. The human chronic myelogenous leukaemia cell line K562 was chosen to investigate the mechanism of cell death. The effect on the cell cycle and cell death was analysed by flow cytometry. Proteins related to apoptosis were studied by western blotting. Mechanical properties of cells were assessed using the Micropipette Aspiration Technique (MAT). The results indicated that the cannabidiol (CBD)-rich extract inhibited cell proliferation of K562 cell line in a dose-dependent manner and induced apoptosis via caspase 3 and 7 activation. A significant decrease in the mitochondrial membrane potential was detected, together with the release of cytochrome c into the cytosol. The main apoptotic markers were not involved in the mechanism of cell death. The extract was also able to modify the mechanical properties of cells. Thus, this hemp extract and its pure component CBD deserve further investigation for a possible application against myeloproliferative diseases, also in association with other anticancer drugs.”

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35107862/

Pros and Cons of the Cannabinoid System in Cancer: Focus on Hematological Malignancies

molecules-logo“The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a composite cell-signaling system that allows endogenous cannabinoid ligands to control cell functions through the interaction with cannabinoid receptors. Modifications of the ECS might contribute to the pathogenesis of different diseases, including cancers. However, the use of these compounds as antitumor agents remains debatable.

Pre-clinical experimental studies have shown that cannabinoids (CBs) might be effective for the treatment of hematological malignancies, such as leukemia and lymphoma.

Specifically, CBs may activate programmed cell death mechanisms, thus blocking cancer cell growth, and may modulate both autophagy and angiogenesis. Therefore, CBs may have significant anti-tumor effects in hematologic diseases and may synergistically act with chemotherapeutic agents, possibly also reducing chemoresistance.

Moreover, targeting ECS might be considered as a novel approach for the management of graft versus host disease, thus reducing some symptoms such as anorexia, cachexia, fatigue, anxiety, depression, and neuropathic pain. The aim of the present review is to collect the state of the art of CBs effects on hematological tumors, thus focusing on the essential topics that might be useful before moving into the clinical practice.”

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34202812/

https://www.mdpi.com/1420-3049/26/13/3866

Phenolic Compounds Cannabidiol, Curcumin and Quercetin Cause Mitochondrial Dysfunction and Suppress Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia Cells

ijms-logo“Anticancer activity of different phenols is documented, but underlying mechanisms remain elusive. Recently, we have shown that cannabidiol kills the cells of acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) by a direct interaction with mitochondria, with their consequent dysfunction.

In the present study, cytotoxic effects of several phenolic compounds against human the T-ALL cell line Jurkat were tested by means of resazurin-based metabolic assay. To unravel underlying mechanisms, mitochondrial membrane potential (∆Ψm) and [Ca2+]m measurements were undertaken, and reactive oxygen species generation and cell death were evaluated by flow cytometry.

Three out of eight tested phenolics, cannabidiol, curcumin and quercetin, which displayed a significant cytotoxic effect, also dissipated the ∆Ψm and induced a significant [Ca2+]m increase, whereas inefficient phenols did not.

Dissipation of the ∆Ψm by cannabidiol was prevented by cyclosporine A and reverted by Ru360, inhibitors of the permeation transition pore and mitochondrial Ca2+ uniporter, respectively. Ru360 prevented the phenol-induced [Ca2+]m rise, but neither cyclosporine A nor Ru360 affected the curcumin- and quercetin-induced ∆Ψm depolarization. Ru360 impeded the curcumin- and cannabidiol-induced cell death.

Thus, all three phenols exert their antileukemic activity via mitochondrial Ca2+ overload, whereas curcumin and quercetin suppress the metabolism of leukemic cells by direct mitochondrial uncoupling.”

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33379175/

https://www.mdpi.com/1422-0067/22/1/204

Cannabis and its Constituents for Cancer: History, Biogenesis, Chemistry and Pharmacological Activities

Pharmacological Research “Cannabis has long been used for healing and recreation in several regions of the world. Over 400 bioactive constituents, including more than 100 phytocannabinoids, have been isolated from this plant. The non-psychoactive cannabidiol (CBD) and the psychoactive Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9-THC) are the major and widely studied constituents from this plant.

Cannabinoids exert their effects through the endocannabinoid system (ECS) that comprises cannabinoid receptors (CB1, CB2), endogenous ligands, and metabolizing enzymes. Several preclinical studies have demonstrated the potential of cannabinoids against leukemia, lymphoma, glioblastoma, and cancers of the breast, colorectum, pancreas, cervix and prostate.

Cannabis and its constituents can modulate multiple cancer related pathways such as PKB, AMPK, CAMKK-β, mTOR, PDHK, HIF-1α, and PPAR-γ. Cannabinoids can block cell growth, progression of cell cycle and induce apoptosis selectively in tumour cells. Cannabinoids can also enhance the efficacy of cancer therapeutics. These compounds have been used for the management of anorexia, queasiness, and pain in cancer patients.

Cannabinoid based products such as dronabinol, nabilone, nabiximols, and epidyolex are now approved for medical use in cancer patients. Cannabinoids are reported to produce a favourable safety profile. However, psychoactive properties and poor bioavailability limit the use of some cannabinoids. The Academic Institutions across the globe are offering training courses on cannabis. How cannabis and its constituents exert anticancer activities is discussed in this article. We also discuss areas that require attention and more extensive research.”

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33246167/

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1043661820316108?via%3Dihub