New research reveals how cannabis compound could slow tumour growth

July 14, 2014
cannabis

Scientists at the University of East Anglia have shown how the main psychoactive ingredient in cannabis could reduce tumor growth in cancer patients.

Research published today reveals the existence of previously unknown signaling platforms which are responsible for the drug's success in shrinking tumours.

It is hoped that the findings could help develop a synthetic equivalent with anti-cancer properties.

The research was co-led with the Universidad Complutense de Madridin, Spain. The team used samples of human breast cancer cells to induce tumours in mice. They then targeted the tumours with doses of the cannabis compound THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol). They found that two cell receptors in particular were responsible for the drug's anti-tumour effects.

Dr Peter McCormick, from UEA's school of Pharmacy, said: "THC, the major active component of marijuana, has anti-cancer properties. This compound is known to act through a specific family of called . However, it was unclear which of these receptors were responsible for the anti-tumour effects of THC.

"We show that these effects are mediated via the joint interaction of CB2 and GPR55 - two members of the cannabinoid receptor family. Our findings help explain some of the well-known but still poorly understood effects of THC at low and high doses on tumour growth.

"There has been a great deal of interest in understanding the molecular mechanisms behind how marijuana, and specifically THC, influence cancer pathology.

"There has also been a drive in the pharmaceutical industry to create synthetic equivalents that might have anti-cancer properties.

"By identifying the involved we have provided an important step towards the future development of therapeutics that can take advantage of the interactions we have discovered to reduce tumour growth."

Dr McCormick added that cancer sufferers should not be tempted to self-medicate.

"Our research uses an isolated chemical compound and using the correct concentration is vital. Cancer patients should not use cannabis to self-medicate, but I hope that our research will lead to a safe synthetic equivalent being available in the future."

'Targeting CB2 –GPR55 receptor heteromers modulates cell signalling' is published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

Explore further: Study shows non-hallucinogenic cannabinoids are effective anti-cancer drugs

More information: "Targeting CB2-GPR55 Receptor Heteromers Modulates Cancer Cell Signaling." Moreno E, et al. J Biol Chem. 2014 Jun 18. pii: jbc.M114.561761.

Related Stories

Study shows non-hallucinogenic cannabinoids are effective anti-cancer drugs

October 14, 2013
New research has shown that the non-hallucinogenic components of cannabis could act as effective anti-cancer agents.

Synthetic derivatives of THC may weaken HIV-1 infection to enhance antiviral therapies

April 30, 2013
A new use for compounds related in composition to the active ingredient in marijuana may be on the horizon: a new research report published in the Journal of Leukocyte Biology shows that compounds that stimulate the cannabinoid ...

Potential cholesterol lowering drug has breast cancer fighting capabilities

June 17, 2014
Researchers at the University of Missouri have proven that a compound initially developed as a cholesterol-fighting molecule not only halts the progression of breast cancer, but also can kill the cancerous cells.

Molecule discovered that protects the brain from cannabis intoxication

January 2, 2014
Two INSERM research teams led by Pier Vincenzo Piazza and Giovanni Marsicano (INSERM Unit 862 "Neurocentre Magendie" in Bordeaux) recently discovered that pregnenolone, a molecule produced by the brain, acts as a natural ...

New drug active against most aggressive type of lung cancer cells

July 10, 2014
(Medical Xpress)—Manchester scientists have shown that a new drug could prove useful in treating small cell lung cancer - the most aggressive form of lung cancer.

Some truth to the 'potent pot myth'

March 18, 2014
New research from The Netherlands shows that people who smoke high-potency cannabis end up getting higher doses of the active ingredient (THC). Although they reduce the amount they puff and inhale to compensate for the higher ...

Recommended for you

Shooting the achilles heel of nervous system cancers

July 20, 2017
Virtually all cancer treatments used today also damage normal cells, causing the toxic side effects associated with cancer treatment. A cooperative research team led by researchers at Dartmouth's Norris Cotton Cancer Center ...

Molecular changes with age in normal breast tissue are linked to cancer-related changes

July 20, 2017
Several known factors are associated with a higher risk of breast cancer including increasing age, being overweight after menopause, alcohol intake, and family history. However, the underlying biologic mechanisms through ...

Immune-cell numbers predict response to combination immunotherapy in melanoma

July 20, 2017
Whether a melanoma patient will better respond to a single immunotherapy drug or two in combination depends on the abundance of certain white blood cells within their tumors, according to a new study conducted by UC San Francisco ...

Discovery could lead to better results for patients undergoing radiation

July 19, 2017
More than half of cancer patients undergo radiotherapy, in which high doses of radiation are aimed at diseased tissue to kill cancer cells. But due to a phenomenon known as radiation-induced bystander effect (RIBE), in which ...

Definitive genomic study reveals alterations driving most medulloblastoma brain tumors

July 19, 2017
The most comprehensive analysis yet of medulloblastoma has identified genomic changes responsible for more than 75 percent of the brain tumors, including two new suspected cancer genes that were found exclusively in the least ...

Novel CRISPR-Cas9 screening enables discovery of new targets to aid cancer immunotherapy

July 19, 2017
A novel screening method developed by a team at Dana-Farber/Boston Children's Cancer and Blood Disorders Center—using CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing technology to test the function of thousands of tumor genes in mice—has ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.