Preclinical evidence on the anticancer properties of phytocannabinoids

Image result for CROSBI“Phytocannabinoids are unique terpenophenolic compounds predominantly produced in the glandular trichomes of the cannabis plant (Cannabis sativa L.). The delta-9- tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the main active constituent responsible for the plant’s psychoactive effect and, together with the non- psychoactive cannabidiol (CBD), the most investigated naturally occurring cannabinoid.

The first report on the antitumor properties of cannabis compounds appeared more than forty years ago, but the potential of targeting the endocannabinoid system in cancer has recently attracted increasing interest. Our study aimed to review the last decade’s findings on the anticancer potential of plant- derived cannabinoids and the possible mechanisms of their activity.

A large body of in vitro data has been accumulated demonstrating that phytocannabinoids affect a wide spectrum of tumor cells, including gliomas, neuroblastomas, hepatocarcinoma as well as skin, prostate, breast, cervical, colon, pancreatic, lung and hematological cancer.

It has been found that they can stop the uncontrolled growth of cancer cells through the cell-cycle arrest, inhibition of cell proliferation and induction of autophagy and apoptosis. They can also block all the steps of tumor progression, including tumor cell migration, adhesion and invasion as well as angiogenesis. The observed effects are mainly mediated by the cannabinoid CB1 and/or CB2 receptors, although some other receptors and mechanisms unrelated to receptor stimulation may also be involved.

The majority of available animal studies confirmed that phytocannabinoids are capable of effectively decreasing cancer growth and metastasis in vivo. THC was found to be effective against experimental glioma, liver, pancreatic, breast and lung cancer while CBD showed activity against glioma and neuroblastoma, melanoma, colon, breast, prostate and lung cancer. Further in vitro and in vivo studies also greatly support their use in combination with traditional chemotherapy or radiotherapy, which results in improved efficiency, attenuated toxicity or reduced drug resistance.

Taken together most of available preclinical results emphasize the extensive therapeutic potential of THC and CBD in various types of cancers. The potential clinical interest of cannabinoids is additionally suggested by their selectivity for tumor cells as well as their good tolerance and the absence of normal tissue toxicity, which are still the major limitations of most conventional drugs. The accumulated preclinical evidence strongly suggests the need for clinical testing of cannabinoids in cancer patients.”

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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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Should Oncologists Recommend Cannabis?

“Cannabis is a useful botanical with a wide range of therapeutic potential. Global prohibition over the past century has impeded the ability to study the plant as medicine. However, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) has been developed as a stand-alone pharmaceutical initially approved for the treatment of chemotherapy-related nausea and vomiting in 1986. The indication was expanded in 1992 to include treatment of anorexia in patients with the AIDS wasting syndrome. Hence, if the dominant cannabinoid is available as a schedule III prescription medication, it would seem logical that the parent botanical would likely have similar therapeutic benefits. The system of cannabinoid receptors and endogenous cannabinoids (endocannabinoids) has likely developed to help us modulate our response to noxious stimuli. Phytocannabinoids also complex with these receptors, and the analgesic effects of cannabis are perhaps the best supported by clinical evidence. Cannabis and its constituents have also been reported to be useful in assisting with sleep, mood, and anxiety. Despite significant in vitro and animal model evidence supporting the anti-cancer activity of individual cannabinoids-particularly THC and cannabidiol (CBD)-clinical evidence is absent. A single intervention that can assist with nausea, appetite, pain, mood, and sleep is certainly a valuable addition to the palliative care armamentarium. Although many healthcare providers advise against the inhalation of a botanical as a twenty-first century drug-delivery system, evidence for serious harmful effects of cannabis inhalation is scant and a variety of other methods of ingestion are currently available from dispensaries in locales where patients have access to medicinal cannabis. Oncologists and palliative care providers should recommend this botanical remedy to their patients to gain first-hand evidence of its therapeutic potential despite the paucity of results from randomized placebo-controlled clinical trials to appreciate that it is both safe and effective and really does not require a package insert.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31161270

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs11864-019-0659-9

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Modulation of the Endocannabinoid System as a Potential Anticancer Strategy.

 Image result for frontiers in pharmacology“Currently, the involvement of the endocannabinoid system in cancer development and possible options for a cancer-regressive effect of cannabinoids are controversially discussed. In recent decades, a number of preclinical studies have shown that cannabinoids have an anticarcinogenic potential. Therefore, especially against the background of several legal simplifications with regard to the clinical application of cannabinoid-based drugs, an extended basic knowledge about the complex network of the individual components of the endocannabinoid system is required. The canonical endocannabinoid system consists of the endocannabinoids N-arachidonoylethanolamine (anandamide) and 2-arachidonoylglycerol as well as the Gi/o protein-coupled transmembrane cannabinoidreceptors CB1 and CB2. As a result of extensive studies on the broader effect of these factors, other fatty acid derivatives, transmembrane and intracellular receptors, enzymes and lipid transporters have been identified that contribute to the effect of endocannabinoids when defined in the broad sense as “extended endocannabinoid system.” Among these additional components, the endocannabinoid-degrading enzymes fatty acid amide hydrolase and monoacylglycerol lipase, lipid transport proteins of the fatty acid-binding protein family, additional cannabinoid-activated G protein-coupled receptors such as GPR55, members of the transient receptor family, and peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors were identified as targets for possible strategies to combat cancer progression. Other endocannabinoid-related fatty acids such as 2-arachidonoyl glyceryl ether, O-arachidonoylethanolamine, N-arachidonoyldopamine and oleic acid amide showed an effect via cannabinoid receptors, while other compounds such as endocannabinoid-like substances exert a permissive action on endocannabinoid effects and act via alternative intracellular target structures. This review gives an overview of the modulation of the extended endocannabinoid system using the example of anticancer cannabinoid effects, which have been described in detail in preclinical studies.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31143113

“In addition to the palliative effects of cannabinoid compounds in cancer treatment, the endocannabinoid system provides several targets for systemic anticancer treatment. Accordingly, preclinical studies suggest cannabinoids inhibit cancer progression via inhibition of cancer cell proliferation, neovascularization, invasion and chemoresistance, as well as induction of apoptosis, autophagy and increase of tumor immune surveillance.”

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fphar.2019.00430/full

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Cannabinoids as a Potential New and Novel Treatment for Melanoma: A Pilot Study in a Murine Model.

Journal of Surgical Research Home

“Malignant melanoma is a complex malignancy with significant morbidity and mortality. The incidence continues to rise, and despite advances in treatment, the prognosis is poor. Thus, it is necessary to develop novel strategies to treat this aggressive cancer. Synthetic cannabinoids have been implicated in inhibiting cancer cell proliferation, reducing tumor growth, and reducing metastasis. We developed a unique study focusing on the effects of treatment with a cannabinoid derivative on malignant melanoma tumors in a murine model.

RESULTS:

A significant decrease in tumor size was detected in mice treated with CBD when compared with the control group (P = 0.01). The survival curve of melanoma tumors treated with CBD increased when compared with the control group and was statistically significant (P = 0.04). The growth curve and survival curve of melanoma tumors treated with Cisplatin were significantly decreased and increased, respectively, when compared with the control and CBD-treated groups. Mice treated with Cisplatin demonstrated the longest survival time, but the quality of life and movement of CBD-treated mice were observed to be better.

CONCLUSIONS:

We demonstrate a potential beneficial therapeutic effect of cannabinoids, which could influence the course of melanoma in a murine model. Increased survival and less tumorgenicity are novel findings that should guide research to better understand the mechanisms by which cannabinoids could be utilized as adjunctive treatment of cancer, specifically melanoma. Further studies are necessary to evaluate this potentially new and novel treatment of malignant melanoma.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30691796

https://www.journalofsurgicalresearch.com/article/S0022-4804(18)30626-7/fulltext

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The endocannabinoid system of the skin. A potential approach for the treatment of skin disorders.

Biochemical Pharmacology

“The skin is the largest organ of the body and has a complex and very active structure that contributes to homeostasis and provides the first line defense against injury and infection.

In the past few years it has become evident that the endocannabinoid system (ECS) plays a relevant role in healthy and diseased skin.

Specifically, we review how the dysregulation of ECS has been associated to dermatological disorders such as atopic dermatitis, psoriasis, scleroderma and skin cancer. Therefore, the druggability of the ECS could open new research avenues for the treatment of the pathologies mentioned.

Numerous studies have reported that phytocannabinoids and their biological analogues modulate a complex network pharmacology involved in the modulation of ECS, focusing on classical cannabinoid receptors, transient receptor potential channels (TRPs), and peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors (PPARs).

The combined targeting of several end-points seems critical to provide better chances of therapeutically success, in sharp contrast to the one-disease-one-target dogma that permeates current drug discovery campaigns.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30138623

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0006295218303484

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Anti-tumoural actions of cannabinoids.

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“The endocannabinoid system has emerged as a considerable target for the treatment of diverse diseases.

In addition to the well-established palliative effects of cannabinoids in cancer therapy, phytocannabinoids, synthetic cannabinoid compounds as well as inhibitors of endocannabinoid degradation have attracted attention as possible systemic anticancer drugs.

As a matter of fact, accumulating data from preclinical studies suggest cannabinoids elicit effects on different levels of cancer progression, comprising inhibition of proliferation, neovascularisation, invasion and chemoresistance, induction of apoptosis and autophagy as well as enhancement of tumour immune surveillance.

Although the clinical use of cannabinoid receptor ligands is limited by their psychoactivity, nonpsychoactive compounds, such as cannabidiol, have gained attention due to preclinically established anticancer properties and a favourable risk-to-benefit profile.

Thus, cannabinoids may complement the currently used collection of chemotherapeutics, as a broadly diversified option for cancer treatment, while counteracting some of their severe side effects.” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30019449

“During the last few decades, a large body of evidence has accumulated to suggest endocannabinoids, phytocannabinoids and synthetic cannabinoids exert an inhibitory effect on cancer growth via blockade of cell proliferation and induction of apoptosis. Some studies support the hypothesis that cannabinoids may enhance immune responses against the progressive growth and spread of tumours.”  https://bpspubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/bph.14426#bph14426-fig-0001
“Previous research has shown that cannabinoids can help lessen side effects of anti-cancer therapies. Now a new British Journal of Pharmacology review has examined their potential for the direct treatment of cancer. Studies have shown that cannabinoids may stop cancer cells from dividing and invading normal tissue, and they may block the blood supply to tumors. Some studies also indicate that cannabinoids may enhance the body’s immune response against the growth and spread of tumors.” https://www.eurasiareview.com/19072018-cannabinoids-may-have-a-vast-array-of-anti-cancer-effects/
“Cannabinoids may have a vast array of anti-cancer effects” https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/07/180718082143.htm

“Cannabinoids may have a vast array of anti-cancer effects”  https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2018-07/w-cmh071718.php

Marijuana may help fight cancer” https://nypost.com/2018/07/18/marijuana-may-help-fight-cancer/

“Cannabis stops cancer spreading and boosts immune system, say scientists. Studies show cannabinoids can stop cancer cells from dividing and spreading, and blocks blood supply to tumours” https://www.plymouthherald.co.uk/news/health/cannabis-can-cure-cancer-proof-1803485
“Cannabis stops cancer spreading and boosts immune system, say scientists. Cannabis can act as a treatment for cancer and boost the immune system, claims a new study.” https://www.devonlive.com/news/health/cannabis-can-cure-cancer-proof-1803485
“Cannabis stops cancer spreading and boosts immune system, say scientists. Cannabis can act as a treatment for cancer and boost the immune system, claims a new study.” https://www.cornwalllive.com/news/uk-world-news/cannabis-can-cure-cancer-proof-1803485
Cannabis ‘can act as a treatment for cancer’. Cannabis can enhance the immune system and act as a treatment for cancer, claims a new study. Scientists at Rostock University Medical Centre in Germany claimed the benefits following a review of more than 100 studies.” https://www.thelondoneconomic.com/news/cannabis-can-act-as-a-treatment-for-cancer/19/07/
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The role of lipid signaling in the progression of malignant melanoma.

Cancer and Metastasis Reviews

“In the past decades, a vast amount of data accumulated on the role of lipid signaling pathways in the progression of malignant melanoma, the most metastatic/aggressive human cancer type. Genomic studies identified that PTEN loss is the leading factor behind the activation of the PI3K-signaling pathway in melanoma, mutations of which are one of the main resistance mechanisms behind target therapy failures. On the other hand, illegitimate expressions of megakaryocytic genes p12-lipoxyganse, cyclooxygenase-2, and phosphodiestherase-2/autotaxin (ATX) are mostly involved in the regulation of motility signaling in melanoma through various G-protein-coupled bioactive lipid receptors. Furthermore, endocannabinoid signaling can also be a novel paracrine survival factor in melanoma. Last but not least, prenylation inhibitors acting even on mutated small GTP-ases, such as NRAS of melanoma may offer novel therapeutic opportunities. As regards melanoma, the most effective therapy nowadays is immunotherapy, with the resistance mechanisms also possibly involving the lipid signaling activities of melanoma cells, which further supports the idea of their being therapeutic targets.”

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INSIGHT ON THE IMPACT OF ENDOCANNABINOID SYSTEM IN CANCER: A REVIEW.

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“In the last decades, the endocannabinoid system has attracted a great interest in medicine and cancer disease is probably one of its most promising therapeutic areas.

On the one hand, endocannabinoid system expression has been found altered in numerous types of tumours compared to healthy tissue, and this aberrant expression has been related to cancer prognosis and disease outcome, suggesting a role of this system in tumour growth and progression that depends on cancer type.

On the other hand, it has been reported that cannabinoids exert an anticancer activity by inhibiting the proliferation, migration and/or invasion of cancer cells; and also tumour angiogenesis.

The endocannabinoid system may be considered as a new therapeutic target, although further studies to fully establish the effect of cannabinoids on tumour progression remain necessary.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29663308

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