Scientists at Complutense University and Autonoma University have discovered that compounds acting at cannabinoid receptors eradicate brain tumors (gliomas) in one third of rats treated, and prolong the survival of another third.
The experiments led by Manuel Guzman suggest that cannabinoids kill glioma cells by inducing a programmed cell death (apoptosis) by a second messenger protein called ceramide and an intracellular signaling cascade.
Guzman said about the experiment published in the March issue of Nature Medicine, that they tested tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) at very low doses and at a stage when the rats were already starting to die. He predicts that the THC would be more effective if given earlier.
Guzman said he hopes to start studies in humans in about a year. "We observed a very remarkable growth inhibiting effect," he said.
"It's very exciting if it makes a dent in the treatment of glioma," said Harvard Professor Lester Grinspoon, MD. "If there is truly some promise to it, that would really be quite phenomenal. However, we have to be very cautious before we jump to any conclusions on how it effects humans."
For more information, please contact Lester Grinspoon, MD, at (617)277-3621.