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Pot Compound Inhibits Tumor Cell Growth, Study Says

Thursday, 20 November 2003

Milan, Italy: Administration of the non-psychoactive cannabinoid cannabidiol (CBD) inhibits the growth of human glioma (brain tumor) cells both in vitro (e.g., a petri dish) and in animals, according to clinical trial data published in the November 14, 2003 issue of the Journal of Pharmacology And Experimental Therapeutics.

"The addition of CBD to the culture medium led to a dramatic drop ... [in the] viability [of] glioma cells in a concentration-dependent manner," researchers at the University of Milan found. The study also demonstrated "for the first time, that the antiproliferative effect of CBD was correlated to induction of apoptosis (programmed cell death of malignant cells)."

Scientists further demonstrated that the administration of CBD in mice "significantly inhibited the growth of subcutaneously implanted U87 human glioma cells." They concluded, "Non-psychoactive CBD ... produce[s] a significant antitumor activity both in vitro and in vivo, thus suggesting a possible application of CBD as an antineoplastic agent (something which prevents the growth of malignant cells)."

The study's findings come just one month after a clinical review in the journal Nature Reviews Cancer suggested that cannabinoids' palliative effects in cancer patients and ability to inhibit the growth of certain types of malignant tumors make them a potentially desirable agents in the treatment of cancer.

Mitch Earleywine, University of Southern California Clinical Science professor and author of the book Understanding Marijuana: A New Look at the Scientific Evidence, praised the Italian study's results. "Cannabinoid research continues to show tremendous potential in the treatment of cancer," said Earleywine, who serves on NORML's Advisory Board. "The vast majority of this work originates outside the US, often in countries that lack our economic and scientific advantages. Let's hope that our drug policy won't stymie the battle against the second leading cause of death in America."

Studies published earlier this year demonstrated that marijuana and its derivatives induce tumor regression in rodents, including the inhibition of malignant gliomas and skin cancer.

For more information, please contact either Paul Armentano or Allen St. Pierre of the NORML Foundation, at (202) 483-8751. Abstracts of the study, entitled "Antitumor effects of cannabidiol, a non-psychotropic cannabinoid, on human glioma cell lines," are available online at:
http://jpet.aspetjournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/jpet.103.061002v1