GW Pharmaceuticals has achieved very promising results in trials investigating cannabis treatment for cancer patients.
The Telegraph’s business section reported on GW’s progress in developing medication for glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) after a study showed promising results. The early stage study on 21 patients suffering GBM tested how safe and effective the cannabis-derived molecules were.
GW combined the cannabis-based medication with the classic chemotherapeutic drug, temozolomide, the standard treatment currently used in cases of GBM.
CBD together with THC may enhance the anti-tumor activity of classic chemotherapeutic drugs such as temozolomide.
83% of patients receiving the cannabis treatment for cancer experienced a survival rate of one year compared to 53% of patients who received placebo. Patients with this aggressive kind of brain tumor increased their survival rate to 550 days in comparison to 369 days if treated with the placebo.
Positive results will lead to more cannabis treatment for cancer trials
Chief executive of GW, Justin Gover, said that the positive results from the trial would speed up oncology research by GW. The company will research cannabis treatment for cancer more extensively in the coming months.
Gover says that the level of efficacy this study demonstrates is sufficient to support further investigation of the potential role of cannabinoids in oncology. He says that investigating a product containing cannabinoids to treat glioma or tumors in the tissues of the nervous system is the next priority.
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Cannabis pharmaceuticals on the rise
GW is on the verge of FDA approval of Epidiolex, its CBD medication for refractory epilepsy. The company is also well-known for Sativex® which has THC and CBD. This drug is best known for treating multiple sclerosis. It was also approved for cancer pain and nerve pain in 2007.
Although many people would prefer more research on natural cannabis, the company has made a big contribution to cannabis since through its research. The rise of cannabis pharmaceuticals is positive if it leads to trials such as the recent study on cannabis treatment for cancer.
THC, CBD and tumor growth
Up till now, there have been no randomized clinical trials on the effects of CBD or THC on tumor growth. At the same time, many scientists think it has potential as a means of reducing tumor growth and metastases. Studies on mice and rats suggest that cannabinoids might protect against the development of certain types of tumors.
The mechanisms that researchers want to investigate include cannabinoids’ potential to induce cancer cell death. They also want to see if cannabinoids will inhibit cancer cell growth in clinical trials. Finally, they want to expand on preliminary evidence that cannabinoids prevent the spread of tumors.
Cannabis treatment for cancer symptoms
Most doctors and oncologists already accept that cannabis treatment for cancer symptoms helps their patients. For example, it reduces pain, and chemotherapy patients find that it stops nausea and vomiting. We also know that cannabis stimulates appetite. With 20 to 30 percent of cancer patients succumbing to starvation, anything that boosts appetite is welcome.
But now cannabis research is progressing beyond that into the quest for a cancer cure. Already, GW’s research shows that cannabis can make chemotherapy work better and extend life. What will come next?