Cannabis Compound May Prevent Colon Cancer

A new research suggests that a compound found in marijuana, known as cannabigerol (CBG), could help prevent the progression of colon cancer.

CBG is a safe non-psychotropic cannabis-derived cannabinoid which interacts with specific targets involved in carcinogenesis. Specifically, CBG blocks transient receptor potential (TRP) M8 (TRPM8), activates TRPA1, TRPV1 and TRPV2 channels, blocks 5-HT1A receptors and inhibits the reuptake of endocannabinoids. CBG properties have been credited with the relief of symptoms associated with glaucoma and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

However, in a recent study by the National Institute of Health (NIH), the agency found that CBG was effective in slowing the progression of colon cancer. The study was published in the Oxford journal Carcinogenesis.

The researchers evaluated whether CBG protects against colon tumorigenesis. They studied the effect of CBG on colon cancer cells, and found that in vivo CBG inhibited the growth of xenograft tumors as well as chemically-induced colon carcinogenesis. According to the study, CBG hampers colon cancer progression in vivo and selectively inhibits the growth of colorectal cancer cells.

The researchers concluded that CBG “should be considered translationally in colorectal cancer prevention and cure.”

According to estimates from the American Cancer Society (ACS), about 50,310 people died from colorectal cancer in the US in 2014. Not counting skin cancers, colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer found in men and women in the US. The death rate from colorectal cancer has been going down for more than 20 years. One reason for the decline in death rates is that there are fewer cases, thanks to colorectal cancer screening.

Sources: Oxford journal Carcinogenesis; American Cancer Society

Last updated: 10/9/14; 3:45pm EST


NICE Rejects GW Pharma’s Sativex for Treatment of Spasticity in Multiple Sclerosis Patients

The UK drug cost watchdog has rejected the cannabinoid drug developed by GW Pharmaceuticals plc for treating spasticity in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS).

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), which determines if medicines are worth using by the NHS, said that the modest benefits and high cost of GW’s Sativex do not justify its use for treating MS symptoms. Sativex costs £50,000 per quality-adjusted life year (QALY), well above NICE’s threshold of £30,000 per QALY.

The recommendation was made in an update to the original 2003 guideline NICE provided with a goal of providing MS patients with better care.

Sativex is a cannabis based drug that is sprayed under a patient’s tongue for treating spasticity related to MS. The drug is sold as a prescription within the UK by its partner, German group Bayer. Sativex is currently approved for use in more than 20 countries. According to NICE, a detailed analysis of the evidence “led the GDG to conclude that there are better treatments available already on the NHS”.

An earlier assessment of Sativex by the Welsh government determined that the drug should be made widely available through the NHS in Wales. This means that the drug will be available to Wales’ residents with MS, however sufferers in England will only have access to the drug if their local commissioning group decides to ignore the NICE guidelines on Sativex.

In addition to Sativex, NICE rejected the use of Fampyra due to its modest benefits and high price. Fampyra is a licensed treatment proven to improve walking speed. Many patient groups and advocates were disappointed with the updated guidelines.

“We’re frustrated that this draft guideline proposes blocking access to treatments that we know can significantly improve quality of life for people with MS. We requested an opportunity to submit evidence to NICE to inform the content of this guideline but were turned away – much to our surprise and dismay. This flies in the face of the best practice process NICE follows when reviewing medicines and we feel people with MS have been denied a voice on this crucial review,” said Nick Rijke, Director of Policy and Research at the MS Society. “We would urge NICE to pause on this and conduct a more open and transparent review, giving patient groups such as the MS Society a chance to present and discuss the evidence.”

The MS Society called the process flawed, and announced their launch of their Treat Me Right campaign. The society only saw the draft guidelines once it went public, so now they only have six weeks to gather the views of people with MS and respond.

“This is exactly the sort of flawed regulatory process standing in the way of enabling access to life-changing treatments that people with MS need – and why we have this week launched our Treat Me Right campaign, calling for the NHS to enable people to get better access to the right treatments at the right time,” Rijke said.

MS is the most common neurological condition in young adults in the UK, affecting about 100,000 people. It can be a highly disabling condition that people live with for many years.

Source: National Institute for Health and Care Excellence; Multiple Sclerosis Society

Last updated: 10/9/14; 2:50pm EST

hemp oil

Earth Sciences Tech Announces Positive Preliminary Results on the Effects of its Hemp Oil on Animal Breast Cancer Cells

Today, Earth Sciences Tech, Inc. (ETST) announced that it has received positive preliminary test results on the effects of its hemp oil enriched with CBD-Cannabidiol on animal breast cancer cells and normal cells.

The company said that it has received an initial report from the Sponsored Research Agreement with the University of Central Oklahoma with these results. The purpose of the study, led by Dr. Wei R. Chen, is to test the effects of ETST’s hemp oil enriched with CBD-Cannabidiol on animal breast cancer and on normal cells.

The results of this preliminary study indicate that the appropriate dose of its hemp oil enriched with CBD-Cannabidiol can inhibit the proliferation of cancer cells more than that of normal cells. At the effective proprietary dose, hemp oil enriched with CBD-Cannabidiol inhibited the proliferation of cancer cells by nearly 90 percent, while only inhibited the proliferation of normal cells about 50 percent. The authors concluded that if hemp oil enriched with CBD-Cannabidiol has the same effect in vivo, it may help with cancer patients. However, the authors said that additional experiments are needed to investigate the effects of hemp oil enriched CBD-Cannabidiol on different cells, particularly on immune cells.

“Our unique position working within the Enhanced Industrial Hemp Oil with CBD field and relationship with the University has already made significant strides on how the Hemp Oil with CBD works. This is just the beginning. These findings are already leading to a better understanding from ETST and the science of unlocking the benefits of Hemp Oil with CBD as well as its true potential. Furthermore I wanted to update the market to let our shareholders know that ETST has begun testing with immune cells,” said ETST’s CEO Harvey Katz, PhD. “We are excited at what the future may bring us and look forward to keeping the market up to date on our test results and findings. We are here to help the industry and people understand all of the benefits that this amazing natural product produces and will continue to let the public see our reports. Some of the details of the report remain confidential because ETST looks to file a patent/patents on or before the beginning of November 2014 in regards to its Hemp Oil Enriched with CBD-Cannabidiol.”

Source: Earth Sciences Tech, Inc.

Last updated: 10/9/14; 12:00pm EST

MIND Program

Gift Funds New Marijuana Investigations for Neuroscientific Discovery Program

McLean Hospital, the largest psychiatric affiliate of Harvard Medical School, recently announced that it has received a half a million dollar gift that funds their new Marijuana Investigations for Neuroscientific Discovery Program (MIND).

The $500,000 gift came from international best-selling author and mental health advocate Patricia Cornwell. With the funding, McLean Hospital and Harvard Medical School researchers will launch the landmark new program that will more fully explore the potential impact of medical marijuana on cognition, brain structure and function. The MIND Program will also gauge study participants’ perceptions of their own quality of life as it relates to medical marijuana treatment.

“We are seeing the country’s view on marijuana shift dramatically and now is the time to allow science to inform our policies and our decisions,” said Cornwell, who is a member of McLean’s Hospital’s National Council and was presented with the hospital’s highest honor in 2012 for her mental health advocacy. “The MIND Program has the potential to revolutionize what we know about medical marijuana and what we think we know.”

Currently, 23 states and the District of Columbia have legalized the use of medical marijuana. Despite this move toward legalization, there have been no published studies to date that have assessed its direct and specific potential impact on cognition and brain function. Investigating the impact that medical marijuana has on patients is critical, since results could help with the course of treatment, safety guidelines and public policy.

“At this point, policy has vastly outpaced science, with little empirical data available regarding the impact of medical marijuana on cognitive function, despite the legal status of the product in a growing number of states,” said lead investigator Staci Gruber, PhD, director of the Cognitive and Clinical Neuroimaging Core at McLean Hospital and associate professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. “Findings from this investigation will ultimately foster a greater understanding of the impact of medical marijuana on cognitive function and brain structure, and may in turn facilitate the examination of the efficacy of marijuana for the different disorders for which it is prescribed.”

The majority of current research studies evaluating marijuana investigate the potential therapeutic properties of cannabinoid chemicals delivered in standardized pharmaceuticals that have not yet reached the market, and therefore do not represent real life situations. Additionally, no study thus far has included an assessment of neuropsychological performance before, during and after treatment. As a result, there is a gap in knowledge between ongoing medical marijuana research, the products currently available to the public and their relationship on cognitive function. The MIND Program will begin to address that gap.

The initial phase of the program is expected to run for two years. Researchers will collect data from participants suffering from conditions including pain, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), who have been certified to take medical marijuana but have no substantial history of recreational use, and have not yet begun this course of treatment. Participants will take several cognitive tests and will undergo brain scans. Additionally, the study will gather clinical information on the participants’ perceptions about their quality of life. After baseline is established, the participants will maintain weekly contact with researchers, checking in physically with the hospital at the three-month, six-month, and one-year mark for more extensive tests.

If the program were to grown, the second phase would include clinical trials and additional areas of research.

“Given the considerable difficulty with cognitive function and disrupted mood experienced by patients with severe medical disorders, the addition of marijuana, which has shown promise in alleviating a range of symptoms, could potentially improve cognitive performance,” said Gruber. “Equally critical, data showing a loss or impairment of cognitive function following the use of medical marijuana could inform alternative courses of treatment and prevent unjustified exposure to harm, especially in vulnerable populations.”

Source: McLean Hospital

Last updated: 10/9/14; 11:00am EST