A recent study published in International Journal of Oncology revealed that cannabinoids, the active chemical in cannabis, can destroy leukemia cells either alone or in combination with other cancer treatments. The scientific community has long-established that cannabinoids may show potential in cancer treatment, with certain varieties known to promote cell death, curb cell growth, and inhibit tumor-inducing blood vessel development. In order to evaluate the compound’s efficacy against leukemia, a team of researchers at the St George’s, University of London studied cancer cells in a laboratory and tested various combinations of cannabinoids and chemotherapy drugs such as cytarabine and vincristine.
The study revealed that the cannabiniod varieties cannabidiol and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) eliminated leukemia cells when used alone. The research team also found that combining the two cannabiniod variants resulted in increased treatment potency. In addition, the study revealed that adding cannabinoids following an initial dose of chemotherapy lead to better overall outcomes against the blood cancer. This means that a similar effect can be achieved by using lower chemotherapy doses, the researchers said. Lower doses of chemotherapy may equate to lower risk of treatment-related side-effects in patients, the experts added.
According to the research team, combining chemotherapy with cannabinoid treatmentfared better than either chemotherapy alone or cannabidiol/THC combination. However, the experts noted that greater treatment potency was observed only when cannabinoid treatment was added after the initial chemotherapy, but not the other way around.
“We have shown for the first time that the order in which cannabinoids and chemotherapy are used is crucial in determining the overall effectiveness of this treatment. These extracts are highly concentrated and purified, so smoking marijuana will not have a similar effect. But cannabinoids are a very exciting prospect in oncology, and studies such as ours serve to establish the best ways that they should be used to maximise a therapeutic effect,” lead researcher Dr. Wai Liu said in ScienceDaily.com.