Cannabis and cancer: unveiling the potential of a green ally in breast, colorectal, and prostate cancer

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“Cancer comes in second place on the list of causes of death worldwide. In 2018, the 5-year prevalence of breast cancer (BC), prostate cancer (PC), and colorectal cancer (CRC) were 30%, 12.3%, and 10.9%, respectively.

Cannabinoids are chemicals derived from the Cannabis sativa plant; the most investigated cannabinoids are cannabinol, delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9-THC), and cannabidiol. In humans, the endogenous endocannabinoid system consists of endocannabinoids, cannabinoids receptors (CBs), and enzymes that degrade the endocannabinoids.

In this review, we will review the most recent literature for evidence that discusses the role of cannabis in the treatment of the three types of neoplasms mentioned.

Studies have proved that BC cells express CB receptors; many in-vivo studies showed that cannabinoids cause apoptosis and inhibit proliferation and migration. Also, researchers found that treating BC mice with THC and JWH-133 (CB2 receptor agonist) slowed the tumor growth.

Regarding CRC, cannabidiol was found to decrease the viability of chemotherapy-resistant CRC cells and inhibit metastasis by antagonizing the G-protein-coupled receptor 55 (GPR55; a novel cannabinoid receptor) necessary for metastasis. Moreover, cannabidiol had anti-angiogenetic effects by reducing the expression of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) in addition to anti-inflammatory effects.

Finally, studies demonstrated that PC cells highly express CB1 and CB2 receptors and that cannabinoids are capable of inhibiting the release of exosomes and microvesicles related to cancer progression. Cannabinoids also have antiproliferative, anti-invasive, anti-fibroblastic, cell cycle arrest, and proapoptotic effects on PC cells.”

“There is growing evidence supporting the role of Cannabinoids in numerous pathological conditions, including their role in several cancer types such as breast, colorectal, and prostate cancer. Accordingly, cannabinoids could have a promising potential as adjunctive therapy for the treatment of these types of cancers.”

Clinical outcome analysis of patients with multiple sclerosis – Analysis from the UK Medical Cannabis Registry

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“Introduction: Whilst disease-modifying therapies are the cornerstone for treatment of multiple sclerosis (MS), there is a need to develop novel therapeutics for the symptomatic sequalae of the disease. Cannabis-based medicinal products (CBMPs) have been suggested as a potential therapy for the associated pain, spasticity, and mental health disorders. However, there is a paucity of clinical evidence on CBMPs in MS. The aim of this study is to assess changes in MS-specific and general health-related quality of life (HRQoL) outcomes alongside adverse event incidence in patients prescribed CBMPs for MS from the UK Medical Cannabis Registry (UKMCR).

Method: Patients prescribed CBMPs for MS symptoms for longer than one month were identified from the UKMCR. The primary outcomes were changes from baseline in MS Quality of Life-54 (MSQoL-54), Generalised Anxiety Disorder-7 (GAD-7), Single-Item Sleep Quality Scale (SQS), and EQ-5D-5L scales at one month, three months and six months. p < 0.050 was defined as statistically significant.

Results: 141 patients met the inclusion criteria for the study. There was an improvement in the following subscales of the MSQoL-54 at 6 months: change in health scale, cognitive function, mental health composition, physical health, role limitations due to physical limitation and due to emotional problems, as well as social and sexual function (p < 0.050). There were also improvements in the EQ-5D-5L index value, GAD-7 and SQS (p < 0.050). 146 (103.55 %) adverse events were reported in total. Most were considered mild (n = 47; 33.33 %) and moderate (n = 72; 51.06 %).

Conclusions: This preliminary analysis demonstrates a possible association with improved general health-related quality of life in those prescribed CBMPs for MS. Moreover, the results suggest that CBMPs are well-tolerated in the first 6 months of treatment. However, this must be interpreted with caution considering the limitations of the observational study design.”

“Cannabis-based medicinal products were prescribed to those with multiple sclerosis.Significant improvements were observed in health-related quality of life. Treatment was well-tolerated over the course of 6 months.”

In silico investigation of cannabinoids from Cannabis sativa leaves as a potential anticancer drug to inhibit MAPK-ERK signaling pathway and EMT induction

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“Genes related to MAPK-ERK signaling pathways, and epithelial-mesenchymal transition induction is evolutionarily conserved and has crucial roles in the regulation of important cellular processes, including cell proliferation.

In this study, six cannabinoids from Cannabis sativa were docked with MAPK-ERK signaling pathways to identify their possible binding interactions.

The results showed that all the cannabinoids have good binding affinities with the target proteins. The best binding affinities were MEK- tetrahydrocannabinol (- 8.8 kcal/mol) and P13k-cannabinol (- 8.5 kcal/mol). The root mean square deviation was calculated and used two alternative variants (rmsd/ub and rmsd/lb) and the values of rmsd/lb fluctuated 8.6-2.0 Å and for rmsd/ub from 1.0 to 2.0 Å that suggests the cannabinoids and protein complex are accurate and cannot destroy on binding.

The study analyzed the pharmacokinetic and drug-likeness properties of six cannabinoids from C. sativa leaves using the SwissADME web tool. Lipinski’s rule of five was used to predict drug-likeness and showed that all compounds have not violated it and the total polar surface area of cannabinoids was also according to Lipinski’s rule that is benchmarked of anticancer drugs. Cannabinoids are meet the requirements of leadlikeness and synthetic accessibility values showed they can be synthesized. The molecular weight, XLOGP3, solubility (log S), and flexibility (FLEX) are according to the bioavailability radar. The bioavailability score and consensus Log Po/w fall within the acceptable range for the suitable drug. Pharmacokinetics parameters showed that cannabinoids cannot cross the blood-brain barrier, have high GI absorption as well as cannabinoids are substrates of (CYP1A2, CYP2C19, CYP2C9, CYP2D6, and CYP3A4) but no substrate of P-glycoprotein.

Based on these findings, the study suggests that cannabinoids are suitable drugs that could be used as effective inhibitors for target proteins involved in cancer pathways. Among the six cannabinoids, cannabinol and tetrahydrocannabinol exerted maximum binding affinities with proteins of MAPK-ERK signaling pathways, and their pharmacokinetics and drug-likeness-related profiles suggest that these cannabinoids could be superlative inhibitors in cancer treatment. Further in vitro, in vivo, and clinical studies are needed to explore their potential in cancer treatment.”

“Numerous studies have been conducted on the application of cannabinoids as an anti-cancer treatment. It was found that it generally has beneficial and protective effects, preventing the growth and spread of tumors and reestablishing homeostasis. Therapeutic trials on the use of cannabinoids as an anti-cancer medication are currently being conducted, even though their therapeutic use in palliative care is well documented.

It is anticipated that the pharmacokinetic and molecular docking data of cannabinoids and the proteins related to MAPK-ERK signaling pathways will help ensure that these drugs are successfully deciphered and developed into oncological healthcare since drug repurposing is a much faster and more cost-effective process than the de novo introduction of a new drug into the clinic.”

The Effect of Cannabinoids on Single-level Lumbar Arthrodesis Outcomes in a Rat Model

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“Background context: The opioid epidemic is a public health crisis affecting spine care and pain management. Medical marijuana is a potential non-opioid analgesic yet to be studied in the surgical setting since its effects on bone healing are not fully understood. Studies have demonstrated analgesic and potentially osteoinductive properties of cannabinoids with endocannabinoid receptor expression in bone tissue.

Purpose: We hypothesize that tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) will not decrease bone healing in spinal fusion.

Study design: Seventy-eight adult Sprague-Dawley rats were used for this study. Utilizing allogenic bone grafts (6 donor rats), posterolateral inter-transverse lumbar fusion at the L4-L5 level was performed. The animals were equally divided into four treatment groups, each receiving 0.1ml intraperitoneal injections weekly as follows: placebo (saline), 5mg/kg THC, 5mg/kg CBD, and a combination of 5mg/kg THC and 5mg/kg CBD (Combo).

Methods: Callus tissue was harvested 2- and 8-weeks post-surgery for qPCR assessment to quantify changes in the expression of osteogenic genes. Manual palpation was done to assess the strength of the L4-L5 arthrodesis on all rats. μCT image-based callus analysis and histology were performed. One-way ANOVA followed by post hoc comparisons was performed.

Results: μCT demonstrated no significant differences. Treatment groups had slightly increased bone volume and density compared to control. qPCR at two weeks indicated downregulated RANKL/OPG ratios skewing towards osteogenesis in the CBD group, with the THC and CBD+THC groups demonstrating a downward trend (P>0.05). ALPL, BMP4, and SOST were significantly higher in the CBD group, with CTNNB1 and RUNX2 also showing an upregulating trend. The CBD group showed elevation in Col1A1 and MMP13. Data at eight weeks showed ALPL, RUNX2, BMP4, and SOST were downregulated for all treatment groups. In the CBD+THC group, RANK, RANKL, and OPG were downregulated. OPG downregulation reached significance for the THC and CBD+THC group compared to saline. Interestingly, the RANKL/OPG ratio showed upregulation in the CBD and CBD+THC groups. RANKL showed upregulation in the CBD group. At 2 and 8 weeks, the CBD treatment group showed superior histological progression, increasing between time points.

Conclusion: This study demonstrates that CBD and THC have no adverse effect on bone healing and the rate of spinal fusion in rats. Osteogenic factors were upregulated in the CBD-treated groups at two weeks, which indicates a potential for bone regeneration. In this group, compared to control, the RANKL/OPG ratio at the early healing phase demonstrates the inhibition of osteoclast differentiation, enhancing bone formation. Interestingly, it shows promoted osteoclast differentiation at the later healing phase, enhancing bone remodeling. This aligns with the physiological expectation of a lower ratio in the early phases and a higher ratio in the later remodeling phases.

Clinical significance: CBD and THC showed no inhibitory effects on bone healing in a spinal fusion model. Moreover, histologic and gene expression analysis demonstrated that CBD may, in fact, enhance bone healing. Further research is needed to confirm the safe usage of THC and CBD in the post-operative setting following spinal fusions.”

Cannabinoids and healthy ageing: the potential for extending healthspan and lifespan in preclinical models with an emphasis on Caenorhabditis elegans

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“There is a significant global upsurge in the number and proportion of older persons in the population. With this comes an increasing prevalence of age-related conditions which pose a major challenge to healthcare systems. The development of anti-ageing treatments may help meet this challenge by targeting the ageing process which is a common denominator to many health problems.

Cannabis-like compounds (cannabinoids) are reported to improve quality of life and general well-being in human trials, and there is increasing preclinical research highlighting that they have anti-ageing activity. Moreover, preclinical evidence suggests that endogenous cannabinoids regulate ageing processes.

Here, we review the anti-ageing effects of the cannabinoids in various model systems, including the most extensively studied nematode model, Caenorhabditis elegans.

These studies highlight that the cannabinoids lengthen healthspan and lifespan, with emerging evidence that they may also hinder the development of cellular senescence. The non-psychoactive cannabinoid cannabidiol (CBD) shows particular promise, with mechanistic studies demonstrating it may work through autophagy induction and activation of antioxidative systems. Furthermore, CBD improves healthspan parameters such as diminishing age-related behavioural dysfunction in models of both healthy and accelerated ageing. Translation into mammalian systems provides an important next step. Moreover, looking beyond CBD, future studies could probe the multitude of other cannabis constituents for their anti-ageing activity.”

“Ageing is a complex and multifactorial process that occurs as a gradual accumulation of cellular damage in various tissues of the body, leading to a decline in physiological functions across all systems. One main aim of ageing research is to identify compounds that can postpone deteriorative changes linked to ageing. Finding interventions that promote healthy ageing may provide a paradigm shift in medicine, by targeting the common denominator of many diseases, that is, the ageing process. With the ongoing trend of cannabis legalisation globally, there is a demand for research that explores the impact of cannabis and cannabinoids on healthy ageing and diseases of ageing.

The current review highlights that cannabinoids, whether endogenous or exogenous, extend lifespan and healthspan in model systems.

However, more research is needed to observe whether these results translate in mammalian systems and ultimately in the clinic. The anti-ageing effects of cannabinoids have a number of different mechanisms, including the reduction of oxidative stress and the triggering of autophagy. More research is needed to further explore the anti-ageing mechanisms of the cannabinoids and to more comprehensively examine their impact on the hallmarks of ageing including cellular senescence. The development of anti-ageing agents that tone up endocannabinoid transmission could also be examined. Moreover, plant cannabinoids beyond CBD could be explored, as well as other cannabis constituents, alone and in combination. In addition, given the robust findings with CBD, chemical analogues of CBD might be developed. The current review underscores that there is much promise for the further development of cannabinoids as anti-ageing agents, to improve healthy ageing and general well-being.”

Hexahydrocannabinol (HHC) and Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9-THC) driven activation of cannabinoid receptor 1 results in biased intracellular signaling

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“The Cannabis sativa plant has been used for centuries as a recreational drug and more recently in the treatment of patients with neurological or psychiatric disorders.

In many instances, treatment goals include relief from posttraumatic disorders, anxiety, or to support treatment of chronic pain. Ligands acting on cannabinoid receptor 1 (CB1R) are also potential targets for the treatment of other health conditions. Using an evidence-based approach, pharmacological investigation of CB1R agonists is timely, with the aim to provide chronically ill patients relief using well-defined and characterized compounds from cannabis.

Hexahydrocannabinol (HHC), currently available over the counter in many countries to adults and even children, is of great interests to policy makers, legal administrators, and healthcare regulators, as well as pharmacologists. Herein, we studied the pharmacodynamics of HHC epimers, which activate CB1R. We compared their key CB1R-mediated signaling pathway activities and compared them to the pathways activated by Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9-THC). We provide evidence that activation of CB1R by HHC ligands is only broadly comparable to those mediated by Δ9-THC, and that both HHC epimers have unique properties.

Together with the greater chemical stability of HHC compared to Δ9-THC, these molecules have a potential to become a part of modern medicine.”

In vitro Antibacterial Activity of Ethanolic Tanao Si Kan Dang RD1 (Cannabis sativa L.) Extracts Against Human Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria

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“Background and Objective: A new strain of cannabis, Cannabis sativa L. Tanao Si Kan Dang RD1, has been approved and registered by the Rajamangala University of Technology Isan, Thailand. The C. sativa is acknowledged for its medicinal properties which demonstrated various therapeutic properties, such as anti-cancer and antibacterial activities. This study aimed to investigate the antibacterial activity of ethanolic extracts from the stems and leaves of the Tanao Si Kan Dang RD1 strain against seven antibiotic-resistant bacteria. 

Materials and Methods: The primary antibacterial activity of ethanolic Tanao Si Kan Dang RD1 extracts were determined using the disc diffusion method, while the minimum inhibitory concentrations (MICs) and minimum bactericidal concentrations (MBCs) were determined using the broth microdilution method. 

Results: The largest inhibition zone, measuring 12 mm, was observed in leaf extracts against Pseudomonas aeruginosa 101. The lowest MIC, at 0.78 mg/mL, was obtained from stem extracts against Stenotrophomonas maltophilia. The lowest MBCs, at 12.5 mg/mL, were observed in leaf extracts against Enterococcus faecalisAcinetobacter baumannii, multidrug-resistant KlebsiellapneumoniaeStenotrophomonas maltophilia and Pseudomonas aeruginosa 101 and stem extracts against Acinetobacter baumannii, multidrug-resistant Klebsiella pneumoniaeStenotrophomonas maltophilia and Pseudomonas aeruginosa 101. 

Conclusion: This study presents a novel finding regarding the antibacterial activity of ethanolic extracts from the leaves and stems of Tanao Si Kan Dang RD1 against antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The potential application of these cannabis plant extracts in the development of antibiotics capable of combating antibiotic-resistant pathogenic bacteria represents a promising strategy to address a significant global health concern.”

Cannabis oil extracts for chronic pain: what else can be learned from another structured prospective cohort?

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“Introduction: The use of medicinal cannabis for managing pain expands, although its efficacy and safety have not been fully established through randomized controlled trials.

Objectives: This structured, prospective questionnaire-based cohort was aimed to assess long-term effectiveness and safety of cannabis oil extracts in patients with chronic pain.

Methods: Adult Israeli patients licensed to use cannabis oil extracts for chronic pain were followed prospectively for 6 months. The primary outcome measure was change from baseline in average weekly pain intensity, and secondary outcomes were changes in related symptoms and quality of life, recorded before treatment initiation and 1, 3, and 6 months thereafter. Generalized linear mixed model was used to analyze changes over time. In addition, “responders” (≥30% reduction in weekly pain at any time point) were identified.

Results: The study included 218 patients at baseline, and 188, 154, and 131 at 1, 3, and 6 months, respectively. At 6 months, the mean daily doses of cannabidiol and Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol were 22.4 ± 24.0 mg and 20.8 ± 30.1 mg, respectively. Pain decreased from 7.9 ± 1.7 at baseline to 6.6 ± 2.2 at 6 months (F(3,450) = 26.22, P < 0.0001). Most secondary parameters also significantly improved. Of the 218 participants, 24% were “responders” but could not be identified by baseline parameters. “Responders” exhibited higher improvement in secondary outcomes. Adverse events were common but mostly nonserious.

Conclusion: This prospective cohort demonstrated a modest overall long-term improvement in chronic pain and related symptoms and a reasonable safety profile with the use of relatively low doses of individually titrated Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol.”

“In conclusion, this structured, prospective cohort study demonstrated modest improvements in pain, associated symptoms, functioning, and quality of life, and a reduction in opioid use. The reduction in “disease burden” was more pronounced in nearly a quarter of the patients, but no predictors for treatment success could be identified before treatment initiation. The doses of THC and CBD in the oil extracts were modest and considerably lower than those required to achieve similar magnitude of effect by cannabis inflorescence. Although medical cannabis treatment appears to be generally safe for most patients, some still experience SAEs.”

Exploring Cannabinoids with Enhanced Binding Affinity for Targeting the Expanded Endocannabinoid System: A Promising Therapeutic Strategy for Alzheimer’s Disease Treatment

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“Despite decades of rigorous research and numerous clinical trials, Alzheimer’s disease (AD) stands as a notable healthcare challenge of this century, with effective therapeutic solutions remaining elusive.

Recently, the endocannabinoid system (ECS) has emerged as an essential therapeutic target due to its regulatory role in different physiological processes, such as neuroprotection, modulation of inflammation, and synaptic plasticity. This aligns with previous research showing that cannabinoid receptor ligands have the potential to trigger the functional structure of neuronal and brain networks, potentially impacting memory processing.

Therefore, our study aims to assess the effects of prolonged, intermittent exposure (over 90 days) to JWH-133 (0.2 mg/kg) and an EU-GMP certified Cannabis sativa L. (Cannabixir® Medium Flos, 2.5 mg/kg) on recognition memory, as well as their influence on brain metabolism and modulation of the expanded endocannabinoid system in APP/PS1 mice. Chronic therapy with cannabinoid receptor ligands resulted in reduced anxiety-like behavior and partially reversed the cognitive deficits. Additionally, a reduction was observed in both the number and size of Aβ plaque deposits, along with decreased cerebral glucose metabolism, as well as a decline in the expression of mTOR and CB2 receptors. Furthermore, the study revealed enlarged astrocytes and enhanced expression of M1 mAChR in mice subjected to cannabinoid treatment.

Our findings highlight the pivotal involvement of the extended endocannabinoid system in cognitive decline and pathological aspects associated with AD, presenting essential preclinical evidence to support the continued exploration and assessment of cannabinoid receptor ligands for AD treatment.”

“In conclusion, our current findings suggest that pharmacological activation of the expanded ECS via the selective CB2 agonist JWH-133 or Cannabixir® Medium Flos—15.6% THC and <1% CBD ameliorates the Alzheimer-like phenotype in APP/PS1 mice by mitigating neuroinflammation and accumulation of Aβ plaque deposits, reducing cerebral glucose metabolism, and increasing glial reactivity. These results support the notion that targeting the ECS using cannabinoid receptor ligands, which lack psychoactive side effects, is a promising target for the development of novel therapeutic approaches against AD.”

“Prevention of Alzheimer’s Disease Pathology by Cannabinoids. Our results indicate that cannabinoid receptors are important in the pathology of AD and that cannabinoids succeed in preventing the neurodegenerative process occurring in the disease.”

Antimicrobial, Probiotic, and Immunomodulatory Potential of Cannabis sativa Extract and Delivery Systems

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“The compounds present in hemp show multidirectional biological activity. It is related to the presence of secondary metabolites, mainly cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids, and the synergy of their biological activity. The aim of this study was to assess the activity of the Henola Cannabis sativae extract and its combinations with selected carriers (polyvinyl caprolactam-polyvinyl acetate-polyethylene glycol graft copolymer, magnesium aluminometasilicate, and hydroxypropyl-β-cyclodextrin) in terms of antimicrobial, probiotic, and immunobiological effects.

As a result of the conducted research, the antimicrobial activity of the extract was confirmed in relation to the following microorganisms: Clostridium difficileListeria monocytogenesEnterococcus faecalisStaphylococcus aureusStaphylococcus pyrogenesEscherichia coliKlebsiella pneumoniaeSalmonella typhimuriumPseudomonas aereuginosa, and Candida albicans (microorganism count was reduced from ~102 CFU mL-1 to <10 CFU mL-1 in most cases). Additionally, for the system with hydroxypropyl-β-cyclodextrin, a significant probiotic potential against bacterial strains was established for strains Lactobacillus acidophilusLactobacillus caseiLactobacillus plantarumLactobacillus brevisLactobacillus rhamnosusLactobacillus reuteriPediococcus pentosaceusLactococcus lactisLactobacillus fermentum, and Streptococcus thermophilus (microorganism count was increased from ~102 to 104-107). In terms of immunomodulatory properties, it was determined that the tested extract and the systems caused changes in IL-6, IL-8, and TNF-α levels.”

“This study investigated the antimicrobial potential of Cannabis sativa extract, Henola variety, and systems with carriers. The extract showed antimicrobial activity against pathogenic microorganisms, suggesting its possible application as support in combating infections. Additionally, the system with hydroxypropyl-β-cyclodextrin may possess prebiotic properties, stimulating the growth of probiotic microorganisms. Furthermore, the investigated systems exhibit immunomodulatory and immunostimulatory effects, with potential therapeutic implications for modulating inflammatory responses. Overall, these findings underscore the multifaceted therapeutic potential of Cannabis sativa extracts. The delivery systems might be used as powder-based food additives, but they might also be subjected to formulation studies for the development of an oral dietary supplement.”