Recent Developments in Medicinal
published this month add to the growing body of scientific
evidence as to the effectiveness of cannabis or cannabinoids
in two quite different medical conditions.
'May trigger cancer cell suicide'
at Complutense University in Madrid, led by Dr Manuel
Guzman, found THC infusions to kill cancerous 'glioma'
cells in the brains of mice. Glioma is a rare form of
malignant brain cancer, and affects around 1800 people
a year in the UK. Gliomas are extremely difficult to
treat. Even after a course of surgery, radiation and
chemotherapy, the median survival rate is less than
induced tumours in the brains of 45 rats. A third were
given THC, the main active chemical in cannabis, a third
were given a synthetic cannabinoid, while the rest were
used as controls.
days the untreated rats died but, when THC and the man-made
cannabinoid were injected directly in the tumours over
seven days, they had a dramatic effect. The chemicals
destroyed the tumours in a third of the mice and prolonged
the life of another third by up to six weeks. Guzman
reported "These results may provide the basis for a
new therapeutic approach for the treatment of malignant
believe that cannabinoids trigger the build-up of a
chemical messenger, ceramide, which in turn leads to
programmed cell death in the tumour in a selective way,
only triggering cell death in cancerous brain cells
- stimulating the cancer cells to commit suicide in
a natural process called apoptosis. Future studies will
try to discover why cannabinoids appear to have no effect
on healthy brains and whether they can be used on people.
Daniele Piomelli, who wrote a commentary for the Spanish
research, published in the March 2000 issue of 'Nature
Medicine', commented to the UPI press agency:
the first convincing study to show that a marijuana-based
drug treatment may combat cancer. If the drug works
as well in humans, then this will be a paper of great
causes instant symptom relief in mice with MS
a report in Nature from a team of scientists led by
David Baker of the Institute of Neurology in London
have provided further evidence of the effectiveness
of cannabinoids in treating Multiple Sclerosis. Investigating
the effects of tremor in mice, the team found THC and
similar compounds (CB1 receptor agonists) to abolish
tremor virtually immediately, an effect which was blocked
or reversed by CB1 receptor antagonists (blockers).
Mice suffering from chronic allergic encephalomyelitis
(CREAE) - an animal model for MS - were injected with
THC as well as three synthetic cannabinoids, including
methanandamide which is similar to the main cannabinoid
produced naturally in the body. All had a significant
ability to reduce both tremor and spasticity. The powerful
CB1 agonist WIN55212 proved the most effective.
concluded that a natural control mechanism was being
influenced as well as the effect of the compounds,suggesting
the purpose of the receptors - and the natural cannabinoids
which bind to them - is to maintain motor control.
the Times "One of their functions is to provide a protective
filter mechanism to limit excess excitation of the nerves.
In a normal animal or human being it provides fine control
over motor function."
the Guardian, Baker stated "Although not a cure, our
research suggests that cannabinoids can play a crucial
role in controlling some of the neuromuscular problems
seen with MS."
Lorna Layward of the MS society, and co-author of the
report: "This is the first time it has been shown objectively
and scientifically that cannabis derivatives can control
some of the symptoms of multiple sclerosis"
Skin Patch developed in USA
Stinchcomb, from the Albany College of Pharmacy in New
York, who has spent the past two years developing a
slow-release skin patch, christened the "pot patch"
or "doobie derm" by colleagues, was in January awarded
was a $361,000 grant from the American Cancer Society.
The project was screened by three panels of doctors,
scientists and staff members as part of the application
process, and has also been approved by the US Drug Enforcement
Administration, which regulates experiments with illegal
drugs. The patch would use synthetic cannabinoids created
in a laboratory and is years away from being tested
Voth, chairman of the US based International Drug Strategy
Institute, a pro drug-war organization which reviews
drug policies, said the patch could pass along the therapeutic
effects of marijuana without making the drug available.
more a marijuana patch than a nicotine patch is a tobacco
patch,'' Voth said. ``I'm all for trying to find pure,
reliable medicine, but I do not support the idea of
smoking weed for medicinal purposes.''
Francisco Chronicle, Thu, 03 Feb 2000