Source: MEDWIRE NEWS
By Mark Cowen
19 November 2007
A compound found in cannabis, called cannabidiol, may help prevent breast cancer spreading to other areas of the body, US study results suggest.
The findings may lead to the development of drugs containing high concentrations of cannabidiol to reduce the risk of cancer spread in people with breast tumours and other cancers.
However, lead researcher Dr Sean McAllister, from the California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute in San Francisco, warns breast cancer patients against using cannabis to reduce the risk of the disease spreading, as smoking the illegal drug would not provide enough cannabidiol to produce any benefits.
In laboratory tests, Dr Sean McAllister and his team investigated whether cannabidiol could inhibit the activity of a gene called Id-1. This gene is believed to play a major role in the aggressive spread of breast cancer cells throughout the body from the original tumour site.
The team found that exposing the breast cancer cells to cannabidiol ‘down-regulated the expression’ of Id-1, meaning that the cells’ ability to multiply and spread was significantly reduced.
Commenting on the implications of the finding, Dr McAllister said: “Right now we have a limited range of options in treating aggressive forms of cancer. Those treatments, such as chemotherapy, can be effective but they can also be extremely toxic and difficult for patients. This compound offers the hope of a non-toxic therapy that could achieve the same results without any of the painful side effects.”
Co-researcher Dr Pierre-Yves Desprez, also from the California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute, added: “What is exciting about this study is that if cannabidiol can inhibit Id-1 in breast cancer cells, then it may also prove effective at stopping the spread of cancer cells in other forms of the disease, such as colon and brain or prostate cancer.”
The research will be published in a forthcoming edition of the journal Molecular Cancer Therapeutics.Republish