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

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Education and communication are critical to effectively incorporating cannabis into cancer treatment

“Providers need to be better equipped to discuss medical cannabis with patients even if they are not willing to prescribe it. The oncology community would be well served to ensure that providers are aware of existing cannabis research and are able to incorporate it into their communications with patients instead of leaving patients to figure out medical cannabis on their own.”

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32986251/

https://acsjournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/cncr.33204

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Cancer patients’ experiences with medicinal cannabis-related care

 “Background: Little is known about medical cannabis (MC)-related care for patients with cancer using MC.

Methods: Semistructured telephone interviews were conducted in a convenience sample of individuals (n = 24) with physician-confirmed oncologic diagnoses and state/district authorization to use MC (Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, Oregon, New York, and Washington, DC) from April 2017 to March 2019. Standard qualitative techniques were used to assess the degree of MC-related health care oversight, MC practices, and key information sources.

Results: Among 24 participants (median age, 57 years; range, 30-71 years; 16 women [67%]), MC certifications were typically issued by a professional new to a patient’s care after a brief, perfunctory consultation. Patients disclosed MCuse to their established medical teams but received little medical advice about whether and how to use MC. Patients with cancer used MC products as multipurpose symptom management and as cancer-directed therapy, sometimes in lieu of standard-of-care treatments. Personal experimentation, including methodical self-monitoring, was an important source of MC know-how. Absent formal advice from medical professionals, patients relied on nonmedical sources for MC information.

Conclusions: Patients with cancer used MC with minimal medical oversight. Most received MC certifications through brief meetings with unfamiliar professionals. Participants desired but were often unable to access high-quality clinical information about MC from their established medical teams. Because many patients are committed to using MC, a product sustained by a growing industry, medical providers should familiarize themselves with the existing data for MM and its limitations to address a poorly met clinical need.”

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32986266/

“Notably, oncology patients reported using medical cannabis (MC) for symptom management and as cancer‐directed therapy, sometimes instead of traditional treatments.”

https://acsjournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/cncr.33202

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Anti-Cancer Potential of Cannabinoids, Terpenes, and Flavonoids Present in Cannabis

cancers-logo“In recent years, and even more since its legalization in several jurisdictions, cannabis and the endocannabinoid system have received an increasing amount of interest related to their potential exploitation in clinical settings. Cannabinoids have been suggested and shown to be effective in the treatment of various conditions. In cancer, the endocannabinoid system is altered in numerous types of tumours and can relate to cancer prognosis and disease outcome. Additionally, cannabinoids display anticancer effects in several models by suppressing the proliferation, migration and/or invasion of cancer cells, as well as tumour angiogenesis. However, the therapeutic use of cannabinoids is currently limited to the treatment of symptoms and pain associated with chemotherapy, while their potential use as cytotoxic drugs in chemotherapy still requires validation in patients. Along with cannabinoids, cannabis contains several other compounds that have also been shown to exert anti-tumorigenic actions. The potential anti-cancer effects of cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids, present in cannabis, are explored in this literature review.”

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32708138/

https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6694/12/7/1985

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Synergistic cytotoxic activity of cannabinoids from cannabis sativa against cutaneous T-cell lymphoma (CTCL) in-vitro and ex-vivo.

 Peer-reviewed Oncology & Cancer Research Journal | Oncotarget“Cannabis sativa produces hundreds of phytocannabinoids and terpenes.

Mycosis fungoides (MF) is the most common type of cutaneous T-cell lymphoma (CTCL), characterized by patches, plaques and tumors. Sézary is a leukemic stage of CTCL presenting with erythroderma and the presence of neoplastic Sézary T-cells in peripheral blood.

This study aimed to identify active compounds from whole cannabis extracts and their synergistic mixtures, and to assess respective cytotoxic activity against CTCL cells.

This mixture induced cell cycle arrest and cell apoptosis. Significant cytotoxic activity of the corresponding mixture of pure phytocannabinoids further verified genuine interaction between S4 and S5.

We suggest that specifying formulations of synergistic active cannabis compounds and unraveling their modes of action may lead to new cannabis-based therapies.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/32284791

“Cannabis sativa has been used by humanity for thousands of years. Various phytocannabinoids exhibit antitumor effects in a wide array of cell lines and animal models. We have shown that a certain synergistic mixture of phytocannabinoids derived from C. sativa extracts have significant cytotoxic activity against My-La and HuT-78 cell lines and against SPBL.

To conclude, active cannabis extract fractions and their synergistic combinations were cytotoxic to CTCL cell lines in in-vitro and to SPBL in ex-vivo studies. The defined S4+S5 formulation of synergistic phytocannabinoids induced cell cycle arrest and cell apoptosis, and affected multiple biological pathways, including those associated with cancer. Based on this pre-clinical study new cannabis-based products that are based on precise composition of synergistically interacting compounds may be developed.”

https://www.oncotarget.com/article/27528/text/

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Cannabinoids as anticancer therapeutic agents.

Cell Cycle Journal are Co-Sponsoring #ACCM15 – The Cell Division Lab “The recent announcement of marijuana legalization in Canada spiked many discussions about potential health benefits of Cannabis sativaCannabinoids are active chemical compounds produced by cannabis, and their numerous effects on the human body are primarily exerted through interactions with cannabinoid receptor types 1 (CB1) and 2 (CB2). Cannabinoids are broadly classified as endo-, phyto-, and synthetic cannabinoids. In this review, we will describe the activity of cannabinoids on the cellular level, comprehensively summarize the activity of all groups of cannabinoids on various cancers and propose several potential mechanisms of action of cannabinoids on cancer cells.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/32249682

“Endocannabinoids and phytocannabinoids can be used for cancer therapy. Cannabis extracts have stronger anti-tumor capacity than single cannabinoids. Combination of several cannabinoids may have more potent effect on cancer.”

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/15384101.2020.1742952?journalCode=kccy20

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The Endocannabinoid System: A Target for Cancer Treatment.

ijms-logo“In recent years, the endocannabinoid system has received great interest as a potential therapeutic target in numerous pathological conditions.

Cannabinoids have shown an anticancer potential by modulating several pathways involved in cell growth, differentiation, migration, and angiogenesis.

However, the therapeutic efficacy of cannabinoids is limited to the treatment of chemotherapy-induced symptoms or cancer pain, but their use as anticancer drugs in chemotherapeutic protocols requires further investigation.

In this paper, we reviewed the role of cannabinoids in the modulation of signaling mechanisms implicated in tumor progression.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31979368

https://www.mdpi.com/1422-0067/21/3/747

“In addition to the symptomatic therapy of cancer patients, the antitumor effects of cannabinoids (whether in monotherapy or in combination with other cancer therapies) have promising potential in the treatment of cancer patients.”   https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31950844
“In addition to the well-known palliative effects of cannabinoids on some cancer-associated symptoms, a large body of evidence shows that these molecules can decrease tumour growth in animal models of cancer. In addition, cannabinoids inhibit angiogenesis and decrease metastasis in various tumour types in laboratory animals. Thus, numerous studies have provided evidence that thc and other cannabinoids exhibit antitumour effects in a wide array of animal models of cancer.”  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4791144/


“Antitumour actions of cannabinoids.”   https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30019449 

“The endocannabinoid system as a target for the development of new drugs for cancer therapy” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12723496

“Cannabinoids as Anticancer Drugs.”  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28826542

http://www.thctotalhealthcare.com/category/cancer/

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The evaluation of Cannabidiol’s effect on the immunotherapy of Burkitt lymphoma.

Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications

“AF1q has a precise oncogenic function.

The purpose of this study is to investigate whether CBD has an effect on the AF1q/ICAM-1 regulatory axis in Burkitt’s lymphoma (BL), and thus has potential to enhance immunotherapy and reduce side effects.

 

RESULTS:

AF1q increased oncogenic growth and colony formation, and induced resistance against cell-mediated cytotoxic chemotherapy through attenuation of ICAM-1 expression in BL. CBD was able to reverse the acquired resistance mediated by AF1q/ICAM-1 regulatory axis.

CONCLUSION:

CBD holds potential to enhance the efficacy of immunotherapy for BL with hyperactive AF1q/ICAM-1 regulatory axis, and warrants further study.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31587870

“Non-psychoactive CBD could potentially enhance the efficacy of immunotherapy in cancer treatment, especially against aggressive B.”

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0006291X1931890X?via%3Dihub

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The heterogeneity and complexity of Cannabis extracts as antitumor agents

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“The Cannabis plant contains over 100 phytocannabinoids and hundreds of other components. The biological effects and interplay of these Cannabis compounds are not fully understood and yet influence the plant’s therapeutic effects.

Here we assessed the antitumor effects of whole Cannabis extracts, which contained significant amounts of differing phytocannabinoids, on different cancer lines from various tumor origins.

Our results show that specific Cannabis extracts impaired the survival and proliferation of cancer cell lines as well as induced apoptosis.

Our findings showed that pure (-)-Δ9trans-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9-THC) did not produce the same effects on these cell lines as the whole Cannabis extracts. Furthermore, Cannabis extracts with similar amounts of Δ9-THC produced significantly different effects on the survival of specific cancer cells.

In addition, we demonstrated that specific Cannabis extracts may selectively and differentially affect cancer cells and differing cancer cell lines from the same organ origin. We also found that cannabimimetic receptors were differentially expressed among various cancer cell lines and suggest that this receptor diversity may contribute to the heterogeneous effects produced by the differing Cannabis extracts on each cell line.

Our overall findings indicate that the effect of a Cannabis extract on a specific cancer cell line relies on the extract’s composition as well as on certain characteristics of the targeted cells.”

http://www.oncotarget.com/index.php?journal=oncotarget&page=article&op=view&path[]=26983

“Many previous reports highlight and demonstrate the anti-tumor effects of cannabinoids. In the last decade, accumulating evidence has indicated that phytocannabinoids might have antitumor properties. A number of in vitro and in vivo studies have demonstrated the effects of phytocannabinoids on tumor progression by interrupting several characteristic features of cancer. These studies suggest that specific cannabinoids such as Δ9-THC and CBD induce apoptosis and inhibit proliferation in various cancer cell lines.”

http://www.oncotarget.com/index.php?journal=oncotarget&page=article&op=view&path%5B%5D=26983&path%5B%5D=85698

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Antitumor Cannabinoid Chemotypes: Structural Insights.

Image result for frontiers in pharmacology“Cannabis has long been known to limit or prevent nausea and vomiting, lack of appetite, and pain. For this reason, cannabinoids have been successfully used in the treatment of some of the unwanted side effects caused by cancer chemotherapy.

Besides their palliative effects, research from the past two decades has demonstrated their promising potential as antitumor agents in a wide variety of tumors.

Cannabinoids of endogenous, phytogenic, and synthetic nature have been shown to impact the proliferation of cancer through the modulation of different proteins involved in the endocannabinoid system such as the G protein-coupled receptors CB1, CB2, and GRP55, the ionotropic receptor TRPV1, or the fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH).

In this article, we aim to structurally classify the antitumor cannabinoid chemotypes described so far according to their targets and types of cancer. In a drug discovery approach, their in silico pharmacokinetic profile has been evaluated in order to identify appropriate drug-like profiles, which should be taken into account for further progress toward the clinic.

This analysis may provide structural insights into the selection of specific cannabinoid scaffolds for the development of antitumor drugs for the treatment of particular types of cancer.” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31214034

“The first report on the antitumor activity of phytocannabinoids was published over four decades ago. During these last years, significant research has been focused on the therapeutic potential of cannabinoids to manage palliative effects in cancer patients. Besides such palliative applications, some cannabinoids have shown anticancer properties. Since inflammation is a common risk factor for cancer, and some cannabinoids have shown anti-inflammatory properties, they could play a role in chemoprevention.” https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fphar.2019.00621/full
“Antitumor effects of THC.” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11097557
“Antitumor effects of cannabidiol” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14617682
“Anti-tumour actions of cannabinoids.” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30019449
“Extensive preclinical research has demonstrated that cannabinoids, the active ingredients of Cannabis sativa, trigger antitumor responses in different models of cancer.” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29940172
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