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Cannabidiol Researchers Discover The Switch To Turn Off Aggressive Breast Cancer Gene

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By Dev Meyers

March 7, 2010 - In the Sixties hippies turned on with marijuana. In the very near future they may be using the same plant to turn off.

Turn off the bad gene that promotes the spread of aggressive breast cancer that is!

Sean McAllister, Ph.D., and Pierre Desprez, Ph.D. at California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute in San Francisco have been testing cannabidiol.

We discovered that cannabidiol (CBD), a non-psychotropic compound from the plant Cannabis sativa, can inhibit the processes that allow breast cancer cells to grow and spread (metastasis). The mechanism that would explain the inhibitory action of CBD in vivo (in a living organism) on breast cancer metastasis has not been elucidated. CBD is a novel inhibitor of a gene whose activity is intimately linked to the aggressiveness of human breast cancers; this gene has been termed Id-1.

Using cultures of breast cancer cells, we discovered that Id-1 was a key gene whose expression needed to be reduced in order for CBD to inhibit the spread of breast cancer.

About 40% of the cannabis plant is the compound cannabidiol. It does not contain THC.

The study is funded by the National Institutes of Health. Early test results on animals are very positive. The doctors hope to begin testing cannabidiol on humans within 2-3 years.

An important goal among breast cancer advocates is to find non-toxic therapies that specifically target metastatic breast cancer and not healthy tissues. Our targeted approach is expected to satisfy these criteria.

Additionally, due to the difficulties in accessing efficient screening methods, metastatic breast cancer is more likely to be diagnosed in women with poor social conditions. Therefore, these new therapeutic modalities may particularly benefit undeserved populations with aggressive cancers. CBD is a novel compound by which the growth and spread of breast cancer may potentially be inhibited through down-regulation of Id-1. We have outlined a strategy to create a family of breast cancer inhibitors that are even more active than the parent drug CBD. Additionally, we expect to discover the detailed mechanisms involved in cannabinoid inhibition of Id-1 and corresponding breast cancer cell aggressiveness. We are collaborating with a pharmaceutical company who is currently engaged in clinical trials testing the efficacy of CBD for indications unrelated to cancer. If CBD inhibits Id-1 and corresponding breast cancer metastasis in mouse models, there would be significant enthusiasm to move CBD toward clinical trials for the treatment of metastatic breast cancer. This process could be rapid since CBD is already being tested in the clinic for indication other then cancer and has an established safety profile. Our goal is to start clinical trials with CBD within three years. Our long-term goal is to follow up with second generation CBD analogs that are expected to be more potent and/or efficacious at inhibiting metastatic breast cancer in humans compared to CBD.

Despite the medicinal and recreational use of Cannabis for centuries, the identity of its main psychotropic constituent remained unknown until 1964 when Raphael Mechoulam, Yechiel Gaoni, and Habib Edery from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel, isolated and synthesized tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). It was subsequently established that this compound is responsible for the psychotropic effects of the plant, one early hypothesis being that since THC is so hydrophobic it induces these effects by interacting with cell membrane lipids. However as more was learned about the pharmacology of THC and of synthetic cannabinoids such as CP55940 that induce THC-like effects it became increasingly likely that these effects must be mediated by a distinct family of receptors.

Source: Cannabidiol researchers discover the switch to turn off aggressive breast cancer gene - National Cannabis Revolution | Examiner.com
 
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