Published: Thu, August 02, 2018
Medical | By

Medicinal cannabis ‘may improve survival’ of pancreatic cancer patients

Medicinal cannabis ‘may improve survival’ of pancreatic cancer patients

". KPC mice treated with a combination of the GPR55 antagonist Cannabidiol (CBD) and gemcitabine (GEM, one of the most used drugs to treat PDAC), survived almost three times longer compared to mice treated with vehicle or GEM alone", state the researchers. With a five-year survival rate of only 8.5 percent, according to the U.S. Cannabidiol (CBD) alongside chemotherapy survived nearly three times longer than those treated with chemotherapy alone.

A naturally occurring cannabinoid could provide hope for pancreatic cancer patients after breakthrough research by Curtin University found it strongly enhanced the effectiveness of the chemotherapy drug Gemcitabine in mice.

Pancreatic cancer is a type of cancer that arrives when cells in the pancreas - a glandular organ behind the stomach - starts to lose control and form a mass.

"We found mice with pancreatic cancer survived almost three times longer if a constituent of medicinal cannabis was added to their chemotherapy treatment".

On the other hand, Dr. Catherine Pickworth of Cancer Research UK appreciates the new research on tackling pancreatic cancer.

The researchers said the drug combination appears to block a protein called GPR55, slowing the growth of pancreatic cancer cells. Consequently, we chose to use its inhibitor cannabidiol, a naturally occurring constituent of medicinal cannabis, as a pharmacological strategy to block GPR55 activity.

Lead researcher Professor Marco Falasca from Queen Mary said: "This is a remarkable result".

Indeed, the life expectancy for pancreatic cancer patients has barely changed in the last 40 years because there are very few, and mostly only palliative care, treatments available.

At present, 9,800 people in the United Kingdom are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and the illness has one of the lowest survival rates - about 5 per cent of those with the condition survive for five years, and around 80 per cent die within a year of diagnosis. That means you cannot infuse THC, the cannabinoid in marijuana that makes you high, with alcohol, but you also can't infuse CBD, the cannabinoid that doesn't get you high and causes many of marijuana's beneficial effects, either.

The researchers said it is also known to improve the side effects of chemotherapy including nausea, diarrhoea and vomiting. This drug is made from cannabidiol.

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