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Medical Science

Cannabinoids kill cancer cells-But how?

By Yanna Jo

It is well known to everyone, the miraculous properties of cannabinoids in relation to the treatment of various diseases. Cancer, as the scourge of our time, has been logical to attract the attention of scientists around the world for many years now.

Is it true then? Can Cannabis Kill Cancer? Today we can respond affirmatively: Yes, cannabis can kills cancer cells! But how?A group of Spanish researchers from University of Madrid have been searching for cannabis-based cancer treatments for nearly 2 decades. Thus far, some of their experiments have been nothing short of miraculous.

A team led by Professors Dr Velasco and Dr Guzman have tested cannabinoid treatments’ ability to kill Glioma Cells. Glioma make up 80% of all malignant brain cancers. In fact it is one of the most aggressive forms of cancer out there. Once a glioblastoma reach stage 4, the average, life expectancy is less than two years. This is with surgery and traditional treatment like radiation and chemotherapy. Fortunately the Madrid team is finding success where few thought success was possible.

Back in the early 2000 doctor Valasco and his team had a breakthrough. They applied Extracted THC to Glioblastoma cells, cultured outside of the body. THC Is the main psychoactive compound In Canabis. What happened shocked researchers around the world. The tumor cells stopped growing and later on, tumor cells actually begun to die.

As it turns out, THC kills Glioblastoma cells in several ways. THC and other cannabinoids, essentially, cut the blood supply to the tumor causing “suicide” in cancer cells.

In 2004, the same researchers found that cannabis alters genes that produce the compound known as VEGF (Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor). This compound helps in the development of new blood vessels. When cancer cells begin to grow, they have to start creating their own blood vessels. The Spanish researchers tested cannabinoids in three mice and two human models with brain cancer. In both models, VEGF decreased, limiting blood supply to tumors. This finding was really pioneering:

The compounds in cannabis prevented the tumors from developing, started to starvie them by cutting the blood supply and eventually caused cancer cells to self-destruct.

This self-destruction is a form that scientists call Programmed Cell Death. Programmed Cell Death occurs in two ways:

Apoptosis and Autophagy
Both ways are normal for the cells. When a cell becomes too old or destroyed, the body uses these mechanisms to eliminate obsolete cells. For some reason, cancer cells do not self-destruct, but continue to develop and create life-threatening tumors. In their investigations, Spanish researchers have found that THC has forced cancer cells to undergo self-digestion or otherwise undergo Autophagy.

“We have in fact discovered a new mechanism, through which cannabinoids activate a signaling pathway that includes what we call autophagy, which is like self-digesting of cells.They activate an autonomous cellular digestion that leads to the death of cancer cells”, Dr Velasco commented.

The odd thing is that, with the use of cannabinoids, this cell death occurs only in cancer cells. The normal cells in the body remain intact. This finding is extremely interesting, especially since back in 1998 the same group of researchers have found that THC also causes Apoptosis in glioma cells.

Thus, cannabinoids kill cancer cells using both mechanisms of programmed cell death.

Dr Velasco and his team are now working on a larger research. A larger-scale trial, involving 30 to 40 glioma patients, in Spanish hospitals. The University of Madrid will work with these hospitals to offer cannabis treatment and test its effectiveness. This is the first time that this will happen on such a scale in a hospital environment.

In 2006, the Velasco team initiated a pilot study with only nine patients with glioblastoma. The study only looked at THC, which was administered intracranially.
The results of the pilot study were very interesting. Eight of the nine patients showed a positive response to THC therapy, which gives hope for the wider clinical trial that is about to start.

Dr Christina Sanchez and her team have found that the effect is more powerful when TCH and CBD join forces to kill cancer in the most effective way. The properties of THC, combined with the strong antioxidant properties of the CBD is a powerful combination that is likely to lead to the complete elimination of cancerous tumors. But what is the correct ratio that will bring the desired cure?

Dr Sanchez, when asked about the specific ratio of THC to CBD that someone needs to fight cancer, commented:

“I wouldn’t say that a 1:1 ratio is needed : I would say that each individual patient needs a certain ratio of cannabinoids, or at least that is what we have seen in our clinical models, which is supported by other research teams working in this field. What we see is that in some tumors, such as brain tumors and glioblastoma, more THC has a better effect than a 1:1 ratio of THC to CBD. “

As scientists continue their research about the beneficial and healing properties of the cannabis plant, new elements come to light. Elements that give hope and create admiration, even to the most conservative. We are looking forward to an exciting future, with new trials and discoveries, that will offer healing and hope to our fellow patients.

Information from:

http://globalhealthtimes.com/

http://ukhealthtoday.com

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