More studies into medical marijuana for brain tumors

Manuel Guzman, a biochemist who has studied cannabis for 20 years in Spain, has captured the headlines when it comes to brain cancer. Clinical trials based on Guzman’s work are now underway at St. James’ University Hospital in Leeds, England.

Neuro-oncologists are treating patients with aggressive brain tumors in England with a combination of temozolomide (a pharmaceutical drug) along with Sativex, a cannabis oral spray developed by GW Pharmaceuticals.

St James’s University Hospital is a major centre for high-tech patient care, teaching and research, and its network of buildings are a landmark visible for miles across the city. The hospital has a pivotal, £220 million wing, named the Bexley Wing, which is home to the St James’s Institue of Oncology. This contains 10 floors dedicated to some of the best treatment for cancer patients available anywhere in the world.

Guzman and his colleagues have been observing the effects of cannabis compounds for over 15 years and found that tumors in one third of the rodents they studied were eradicated, and tumors were reduced in another third of the rodents.

Guzman’s research indicates that a combination of THC, CBD and termozolomide appears to work well in treating tumors in rats. These compounds seem to attack the cancer cells by preventing them from spreading, but also through apoptosis.

While much research needs to be done, in fact, scientists haven’t even scratched the surface of research into the medicinal properties of cannabis, Guzman remains cautiously optimistic and in his own words “At least the mind-set is opening around the world, and funding agencies now know that cannabis, as a drug, is scientifically serious, therapeutically promising and clinically relevant.”

This gives hope to thousands of cancer sufferers who, up to now, have relied on anecdotal evidence to give them hope. Anecdotal evidence, while fascinating, can be unreliable and sometimes downright fraudulent.

There are cases where cannabis has done nothing more than help counter the effects and damage done by chemotherapy and nausea, and some patients’ cancers are resistant to cannabis treatment.

Sources:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21220494

http://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/2015/06/marijuana-science-drug-research-legality/

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