Cannabis use in cancer: a survey of the current state at BC Cancer before recreational legalization in Canada.

Image result for Curr Oncol.“Cancer patients experience multiple symptoms throughout their illness, and some report benefit from the use of cannabis. There are concerns that many patients are accessing products inappropriate for their situation and potentially putting themselves at risk.

In the present study, we aimed to capture the prevalence of cannabis use among cancer patients at BC Cancer before recreational legalization in Canada and to identify the reasons that patients take cannabis, the various routes of administration they use, and the reasons that prior users stopped.

RESULTS:

Of surveys sent to 2998 patients, 821 (27.4%) were returned and included in analysis. Of those respondents, 23% were currently using cannabis-based products, almost exclusively for medical purposes, and an additional 28% had been users in the past (most often recreationally). Of the patients currently using cannabis, 31% had medical authorization. The most common symptoms that the current users were targeting were pain, insomnia, nausea, and anxiety; many were also hoping for anticancer effects.

CONCLUSIONS:

More than half the respondents had tried cannabis at some time, and almost one quarter of respondents were currently taking cannabis to help manage their symptoms or treat their cancer, or both. Many more patients would consider use with appropriate guidance from a health care professional. More research is needed to inform physicians and patients about safe uses and doses and about the potential adverse effects of cannabis use.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31548810

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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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Dramatic response to Laetrile and cannabidiol (CBD) oil in a patient with metastatic low grade serous ovarian carcinoma.

Gynecologic Oncology Reports

“Complimentary alternative medicine use is common in women with gynecologic cancers. Cannabinoid receptors are potential therapeutic targets in ovarian cancer. Communication with patients is critical regarding use of alternative therapies.”  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31193514

In this case report, we present the case of a female patient who demonstrated disease response after declining standard therapy and taking a combination of Laetrile and CBD oil. Previous clinical trials in humans have demonstrated no therapeutic effect in cancer patients taking Laetrile. However, basic science studies have identified cannabinoid receptors in ovarian cancer as potential therapeutic targets for cannabinoid use in treating malignancy.

In this case report, we highlight a dramatic response to combination Laetrile and CBD oil in a patient with widely metastatic Low grade serous ovarian cancer (LGSOC).

Laetrile is a semi-synthetic version of amygdaline, a chemical compound found in plants and fruit seeds. Both Laetrile and amygdaline contain cyanide within a common structural component. Theoretically, Laetrile has anti-cancer effects when cyanide is released via enzymatic degradation. However, a Cochrane review published in 2015 found no randomized or quasi randomized control trials supporting the use of Laetrile in cancer patients. Further, they argued that due to the risk of cyanide poisoning, Laetrile use should be discouraged in patients seeking the compound for alternative cancer therapy. Concerns for toxicity in combination with inability to demonstrate clinical efficacy led to an effective ban on the substance by the FDA in the 1980s. Nevertheless, the substance remains available for purchase in variable formulations commercially.

Cannabidiol (CBD) is a compound naturally derived from the cannabis plant.

The anti-cancer effects of CBD have been evaluated predominantly in the laboratory setting. Interestingly, ovarian cancer cell lines express GPR55, a target that is inhibited indirectly by CBD and that plays a role in prostate and ovarian cancer cell proliferation. Mouse model studies have also demonstrated cannabinoids inhibit tumor cell growth and induce apoptosis in gliomas, lymphomas, prostate, breast, lung, skin, and pancreatic cancer cells.”

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2352578919300517?via%3Dihub

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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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The Endocannabinoid System as a Target in Cancer Diseases: Are We There Yet?

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“The endocannabinoid system (ECS) has been placed in the anti-cancer spotlight in the last decade. The immense data load published on its dual role in both tumorigenesis and inhibition of tumor growth and metastatic spread has transformed the cannabinoid receptors CB1 (CB1R) and CB2 (CB2R), and other members of the endocannabinoid-like system, into attractive new targets for the treatment of various cancer subtypes.

Although the clinical use of cannabinoids has been extensively documented in the palliative setting, clinical trials on their application as anti-cancer drugs are still ongoing. As drug repurposing is significantly faster and more economical than de novo introduction of a new drug into the clinic, there is hope that the existing pharmacokinetic and safety data on the ECS ligands will contribute to their successful translation into oncological healthcare.

CB1R and CB2R are members of a large family of membrane proteins called G protein-coupled receptors (GPCR). GPCRs can form homodimers, heterodimers and higher order oligomers with other GPCRs or non-GPCRs. Currently, several CB1R and CB2R-containing heteromers have been reported and, in cancer cells, CB2R form heteromers with the G protein-coupled chemokine receptor CXCR4, the G protein-coupled receptor 55 (GPR55) and the tyrosine kinase receptor (TKR) human V-Erb-B2 Avian Erythroblastic Leukemia Viral Oncogene Homolog 2 (HER2).

These protein complexes possess unique pharmacological and signaling properties, and their modulation might affect the antitumoral activity of the ECS. This review will explore the potential of the endocannabinoid network in the anti-cancer setting as well as the clinical and ethical pitfalls behind it, and will develop on the value of cannabinoid receptor heteromers as potential new targets for anti-cancer therapies and as prognostic biomarkers.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31024307

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fphar.2019.00339/full

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Cannabinoid WIN 55,212-2 induces cell cycle arrest and apoptosis, and inhibits proliferation, migration, invasion, and tumor growth in prostate cancer in a cannabinoid-receptor 2 dependent manner.

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“Cannabinoids have demonstrated anticarcinogenic properties in a variety of malignancies, including in prostate cancer.

In the present study, we explored the anti-cancer effects of the synthetic cannabinoid WIN 55,212-2 (WIN) in prostate cancer.

RESULTS:

WIN significantly reduced prostate cancer cell proliferation, migration, invasion, induced apoptosis, and arrested cells in Go/G1 phase in a dose-dependent manner. Mechanistic studies revealed these effects were mediated through a pathway involving cell cycle regulators p27, Cdk4, and pRb. Pre-treatment with a CB2 antagonist, AM630, followed by treatment with WIN resulted in a reversal of the anti-proliferation and cell cycle arrest previously seen with WIN alone. In vivo, administration of WIN resulted in a reduction in the tumor growth rate compared to control (P < 0.05).

CONCLUSIONS:

The following study provides evidence supporting the use of WIN as a novel therapeutic for prostate cancer.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30242861

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/pros.23720

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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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Cannabis: A Prehistoric Remedy for the Deficits of Existing and Emerging Anticancer Therapies

“Cannabis has been used medicinally for centuries and numerous species of this genus are undoubtedly amongst the primeval plant remedies known to humans.

Cannabis sativa in particular is the most reported species, due to its substantial therapeutic implications that are owed to the presence of chemically and pharmacologically diverse cannabinoids.

These compounds have long been used for the palliative treatment of cancer.

Recent advancements in receptor pharmacology research have led to the identification of cannabinoids as effective antitumor agents.

This property is accredited for their ability to induce apoptosis, suppress proliferative cell signalling pathways and promote cell growth inhibition.

Evolving lines of evidence suggest that cannabinoid analogues, as well as their receptor agonists, may offer a novel strategy to treat various forms of cancer.

This review summarizes the historical perspective of C. sativa, its potential mechanism of action, and pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic aspects of cannabinoids, with special emphasis on their anticancer potentials.”

http://www.xiahepublishing.com/ArticleFullText.aspx?sid=2&jid=3&id=10.14218%2FJERP.2017.00012

Cannabis products.

“Cannabis products. First row, left to right: Indian, Lebanese, Turkish and Pakistani hashish. Second row, left to right: Swiss hashish, Zairean marijuana, Swiss marijuana, Moroccan hash oil.”

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Anandamide Revisited: How Cholesterol and Ceramides Control Receptor-Dependent and Receptor-Independent Signal Transmission Pathways of a Lipid Neurotransmitter.

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“Anandamide is a lipid neurotransmitter derived from arachidonic acid, a polyunsaturated fatty acid.

The chemical differences between anandamide and arachidonic acid result in a slightly enhanced solubility in water and absence of an ionisable group for the neurotransmitter compared with the fatty acid. In this review, we first analyze the conformational flexibility of anandamide in aqueous and membrane phases. We next study the interaction of the neurotransmitter with membrane lipids and discuss the molecular basis of the unexpected selectivity of anandamide for cholesterol and ceramide from among other membrane lipids.

We show that cholesterol behaves as a binding partner for anandamide, and that following an initial interaction mediated by the establishment of a hydrogen bond, anandamide is attracted towards the membrane interior, where it forms a molecular complex with cholesterol after a functional conformation adaptation to the apolar membrane milieu.

The complex is then directed to the anandamide cannabinoid receptor (CB1) which displays a high affinity binding pocket for anandamide. We propose that cholesterol may regulate the entry and exit of anandamide in and out of CB1 by interacting with low affinity cholesterol recognition sites (CARC and CRAC) located in transmembrane helices.

The mirror topology of cholesterol binding sites in the seventh transmembrane domain is consistent with the delivery, extraction and flip-flop of anandamide through a coordinated cholesterol-dependent mechanism. The binding of anandamide to ceramide illustrates another key function of membrane lipids which may occur independently of protein receptors.

Interestingly, ceramide forms a tight complex with anandamide which blocks the degradation pathway of both lipids and could be exploited for anti-cancer therapies.”

“The endogenous cannabinoid anandamide inhibits human breast cancer cell proliferation” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC20983/

“The endogenous cannabinoid, anandamide, induces cell death in colorectal carcinoma cells: a possible role for cyclooxygenase 2”  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1774787/

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Novel therapeutic applications of cannabinoids in cancer disease

oatext

“The present review shows that cannabinoids exert their anti-cancer effects in a number of ways and in a variety of tissues.

The endocannabinoid system is an almost ubiquitous signalling system involved in the control of cell fate. Recent studies have investigated the possibility that drugs targeting the endocannabinoid system might be used to retard or block cancer growth.

The endocannabinoids have been shown to inhibit the growth of tumour cells in culture and animal models by modulating key cell signalling pathways. Therefore, the present review indicated that cannabinoids exert their anti-cancer effects in a number of ways and in a variety of tissues.

  • Triggering cell death, through a mechanism called apoptosis
  • Stopping cells from dividing
  • Preventing new blood vessels from growing into tumours
  • Reducing the chances of cancer cells spreading through the body, by stopping cells from moving or invading neighbouring tissue
  • Speeding up the cell’s internal ‘waste disposal machine’ – a process known as autophagy – which can lead to cell death

Furthermore, the novel therapeutic application of cannabinoids in cancer disease, described here, strongly support the idea that cannabinoids may induce benefical effect in cancer treatment.”

http://www.oatext.com/novel-therapeutic-applications-of-cannabinoids-in-cancer-disease.php

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