Cannabis Reduces Cancer Cells And Side-Effects: Study

Cannabis flower and scientist cancer
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Cannabis modified in the lab helps reduce cancer cells and other side-effects including those caused by chemotherapy, a study conducted at the University of Athens’ Pharmacy Department has found. The cannabinoid acids found in the cannabis plant, after being specially modified in the lab, appear to significantly reduce the cells that cause breast, liver and skin cancer.

Before they may be used in the future for the production of anti-cancer medications, their anti-cancer activity must be proven.

Prokopios Magiatis, associate professor at the university’s Laboratory of Pharmacognosy and Natural Products Chemistry, presented the findings of this study within the framework of the 9th Panhellenic Conference of Applied Sciences last weekend.

The hemp plant contains cannabinoid acids. The main purpose of the research carried out at the Department of Pharmacy of the EKPA is the modification of cannabinoid acids in order to produce original chemical compounds. The class of these substances shows increased penetration into cell membranes and fatty tissues, as well as improved stability inside and outside the body, elements that lead to more promising pharmacological actions”, Magiatis said, according to state-broadcaster ERT.

He emphasized that “proceeding with their pharmacological evaluation, with experiments carried out in collaboration with the research team of Dr. Charalambias Boletis at the Hellenic Pasteur Institute, we discovered that these substances had an improved cytotoxic effect on various cancer cell lines (breast, melanoma, liver, etc.) with the most promising substance being cannabigerolic acid butyl ester (CBG) against cancer cells breast cells. This particular cannabinoid has also been tested for its toxicity and after experiments on mice it was shown to be non-toxic and non-psychoactive, even at very high doses. The specific substances are protected by an international patent with the participation of the University of Athens and the company Ekati Alchemy Lab, SL. and we are currently in negotiations with major pharmaceutical companies to continue their use.”

The research team consists of Prokopis Magiatis, Evangelos Dadiotis, Eleni Melliou, Vangelis Mitsis, Aikaterini Papakonstantinou and Charalambia Boleti.

According to Mr. Magiatis, “more than 500 clinical studies of the components of cannabis and mainly of its non-psychotropic components are in progress, while new synthetic components with improved properties are also under study.”

Medical treatments
Magiatis noted that Greek patients have access to two preparations containing medicinal cannabis. These are epidyolex which contains only cannabidiol and sativex which contains a combination of tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol. Both are approved by the European Medicines Agency and the Greek Medicines Authority (EOF) and are prescribed. However, since they are not sold in Greece, a special import procedure is required.

“Epidyolex is a complementary treatment for epileptic seizures, while sativex is administered to treat spasticity and neuropathic pain,” he explained.

New products only with medical prescription
According to Magiatis, based on the latest legislative regulations, it is expected that final medicinal cannabis products with tetrahydrocannabinol will be available in pharmacies that will only be administered with a medical prescription.

The following indications of use will apply to these products:

  • Prevention and treatment of severe nausea or vomiting from chemotherapy, radiation therapy and combination therapy against HIV or hepatitis C
  • Treatment of chronic pain associated with cancer or diseases of the central or peripheral nervous system
  • Treatment of spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis or spinal cord injuries
  • As an appetite boaster in the palliative care of patients undergoing treatments for cancer or AIDS

“The prescription of the finished medicinal cannabis product cannot under any circumstances be a treatment of first choice. It is prescribed only to a patient who does not respond to other treatment regimens or when these are not well tolerated or are contraindicated for the specific patient,” Magiatis pointed.

According to him, there are side effects such as relaxation, hypoactivity, drowsiness, tachycardia, dry mouth, reduction of intraocular pressure, withdrawal syndrome, euphoria and neglect of important activities of daily life.