Phytocannabinoids for Cancer Therapeutics: Recent Updates and Future Prospects.

“Phytocannabinoids (pCBs) are lipid-soluble phytochemicals present in the plant, Cannabis sativa L. and non-cannabis plants which have a long history in traditional and recreational medicine.

The plant and constituents were central in the discovery of the endocannabinoid system, the most new target for drug discovery.

The endocannabinoid system includes two G protein-coupled receptors; the cannabinoid receptors-1 and -2 (CB1 and CB2) for marijuana’s psychoactive principle ∆(9)-tetrahydrocannabinol (∆9-THC), their endogenous small lipid ligands; namely anandamide (AEA) and 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG), also known as endocannabinoids and the proteins for endocannabinoid biosynthesis and degradation such as fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) and monoacylglycerol lipase (MAGL).

The endocannabinoid system has been suggested as a pro-homeostatic and pleiotropic signaling system activated in a time- and tissue-specific way during pathological conditions including cancer.

Targeting the CB1 receptors become a concern because of adverse psychotropic reactions. Hence, targeting the CB2 receptors or the endocannabinoid metabolizing enzyme by phytocannabinoids obtained from non-cannabis plant lacking psychotropic adverse reactions has garnered interest in drug discovery.

These pCBs derived from plants beyond cannabis appear safe and effective with a wider access and availability.

In recent years, several pCBs derived other than non-cannabinoid plants have been reported to bind to and functionally interact with cannabinoid receptors and appear promising candidate for drug development in cancer therapeutics.

Several of them also target the endocannabinoid metabolizing enzymes that control endocannabinoid levels. In this article, we summarize, critically discuss the updates and future prospects of the pCBs as novel and promising candidates for cancer therapeutics.”

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