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To date, hundreds of scientific papers on the relationship of cannabinoids (the endocannabinoid system) to cancer have been published. However, because of the multi-year ban, these studies are still struggling to find enough scientific evidence through extensive clinical trials to prove that these are safe and effective in treating cancer. Most scientific studies investigating whether cannabinoids can treat cancer have been done using cancer cells grown in the lab or in animals. The best results from lab studies so far have come from using a combination of high-purity THC and CBD.
Laboratory experiments studying many different cancers, including glioblastoma brain tumors, prostate, breast, lung and pancreatic cancers, yielded interesting results. Several preclinical laboratory studies have shown that cannabinoids may reduce the growth of cancer cells and may disrupt the blood supply to cancer cells, including brain tumors, breast and prostate cancers, and more.
As medicinal cannabis moves from "novel" to mainstream, pharmaceutical companies will need to ensure that these medical formulations meet current pharmaceutical standards in terms of consistent dosage, route of administration, stability, clinical efficacy and safety. New medicines will require intellectual property rights that are strictly protected through international patents and have actual clinical efficacy in patient data. Despite advances in preclinical testing, the key to the full acceptance of cannabis in the scientific community is real human data from clinical trials.
In the UK, researchers at the University of Birmingham are studying the efficacy of Sativex (often associated with the treatment of multiple sclerosis) in the treatment of glioblastoma, the most common and aggressive form of brain cancer. The second phase of human testing will evaluate whether adding Sativex to chemotherapy can prolong the lives of patients diagnosed with glioblastoma.
In 2021, scientists report final results from this Phase 1 study using Sativex in combination with the chemotherapy drug temozolomide in patients with recurrent glioblastoma. The researchers found that adding Sativex, which allows patients to choose how much to take, had acceptable levels of side effects, including vomiting, dizziness, fatigue, nausea and headaches. They also observed that more patients (83%) were alive after a year on Sativex compared to patients who took a placebo (44%). The Phase 1 study involved 27 patients. The trial is expanding into a Phase 2 (called ARISTOCRAT) to explore whether the treatment is effective and which patients are most likely to respond to it. It will be launched in 15 NHS hospitals in 2022 and will enroll more than 230 patients (and utilise Cancer Research UK clinical trials).
In Europe, the University Medical Center Groningen in the Netherlands is in Phase 2 testing the effects of cannabis oil on 20 liver cancer patients who have exhausted all other treatment options. Launched in 2021, the trial will run for three years using Transvamix® containing 10% THC and 5% CBD.
These small-scale clinical trials need to be licensed and accelerated globally. Knowledge sharing by the scientific community will help to make up for lost research over the years through bans, other ongoing research:
Dr. Wai Liu of St. George's University is researching cannabis and cannabinoids for cancer treatment to build the evidence.
Professor Susan Short leads the ARISTOCRAT trial, which is evaluating the combination of Sativex and the chemotherapy drug temozolomide in patients with recurrent glioblastoma.
The medical cannabis research group at Imperial College London is exploring the use of cannabinoids as it relates to potential treatments for cancer-related inflammation and pain.
The charity DrugScience is running Project Twenty21, which is collecting data on the efficacy of cannabis-based medicines for a variety of conditions, including cancer-related pain, nausea and anxiety.
Cancer Research UK has been taking a very cautious approach, but on 13 May 2022 an update on the latest cannabinoid research and ongoing clinical trials was carried out around Cannabis, cannabinoids and cancer – the evidence to date. . Cancer Research UK has no organisational policy on the legal status of cannabis, its use as a medicine or its medical use other than cancer, but supports appropriate scientific research on cannabis and its derivatives for the benefit of cancer patients and has therefore been There is evidence to monitor the development and emergence of the cannabinoid field. The current consensus in the UK is that the medical use of cannabis for the treatment of cancer-related chronic pain in the UK has been Approval.
Even more exciting, in March 2022, Open Access Government shared in "Medical Cannabis and the Future of Cancer Treatment" Dr Stephen Barnhill MD, CEO of Apollon Formularies Plc, researching medical cannabis and cancer treatment in the UK and European healthcare sector s future. Early research suggests that cannabis-derived drugs can be effective in treating a variety of cancers. Recent experimental treatments and small-scale clinical trials have demonstrated the importance of demonstrating the efficacy of these medicinal cannabis formulations and will be a critical and necessary way to bring medical cannabis into mainstream treatment for cancer patients. Different cannabinoids can cause cell death (apoptosis), block cell growth through various inhibitors, prevent the development of blood vessels required for tumor growth (mTOR inhibitors), reduce inflammation by inducing apoptosis, inhibit cell proliferation, Inhibits cytokine production and induces T regulatory cells, and reduces the ability of cancer to spread (cell migration and metastasis).
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