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Scientists Made a Cannabis Strain That Can Kill Cancer Cells

August 12, 2020 04:53 pm ET
Scientists Made a Cannabis Strain That Can Kill Cancer Cells

Cancer is becoming increasingly common, with most people knowing someone who has been affected by this dreaded disease. Cancer is the name that has been given to a collective of related diseases which can be present in any part of the human body. Conventional and experimental treatments for cancer often involve undesired, and sometimes extreme, side effects.  Many cancer patients turn to cannabis for relief… and now, scientists have developed a modified strain of cannabis in order to kill off cancer cells. 

Normal vs Cancer Cells 

In a normal situation, the body’s cells grow, divide, and then form new cells. When the cells grow old, or if they get damaged, then they die and get replaced by new cells. When cancer comes along, this process is disrupted and the cells that should have died stay alive, the abnormal cells become even more abnormal as well as the possibility of continuous production of new cells, even when the body has no need for them. 

Cannabis is one of the world’s most documented plants and is quickly becoming the center of many medicinal research topics. Now, cannabis shows the promise of potentially curing cancer by attacking its cells. 

Background Information

The University of Newcastle (Australia) has released a statement starring Dr. Matt Dun and his breakthrough test results. Dr. Matt Dun is a cancer researcher at the university and has finally concluded three years’ worth of investigations done in collaboration with the Australian Natural Therapeutics Group (ANTG). The laboratory testing was conducted at the university itself as well as at the Hunter Medical Research Institute (HMRI).

The three years of research paid off as test results displayed a modified strain of medical cannabis which can kill, or inhibit, cancer cells. The same results revealed that it could do so without impacting the normal cells. This means that cannabis is moving away from being the source of relief and moving towards becoming an effective form of treatment. 

What is This Modified Miracle Strain?

ANTG, in collaboration with Dr. Matt Dun, is able to generate a strain of cannabis referred to as ‘Eve’, which contains less that 1% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). This modified strain of cannabis does contain a high quantity of the cannabis cannabinoid commonly referred to as cannabidiol (CBD). 

The Research and Testing 

Dr. Matt Dun explained that ANTG wanted him to test Eve against cancer, of which leukemia cells were chosen for the initial testing. He goes on to express how surprised they were at the sensitivity of the leukemia cells against Eve as well as at how Eve did not kill off normal bone marrow cells nor the healthy while blood cells. 

Upon seeing the results from testing cannabis against the leukemia cells, Dr. Dun said that they “then realized there was a cancer-selective mechanism involved” and that they have “spent the past couple of years trying to find the answer.” Dr. Dun and his team worked on conducting the necessary tests and research in order to determine Eve’s potential as a cancer intervention (treatment). For one, the team ran two comparisons between cannabis containing high levels of (1) THC and (2) CBD. In the case of leukemia and pediatric brainstem glioma, the cannabis containing higher levels of CBD was more effective in killing the cancerous cells.  

The team did a literature review of over 150 academic papers which have investigated the health benefits, side effects and also the possible anti-cancer benefits of cannabis compounds THC and CBD. Dr. Dun went on to state that research is taking place all over the world on cannabis containing more of the THC compound for cancer treatment. Dr. Dun points put that “if you’re on that therapy your quality of life is impacted, you can’t drive, for example, and clinicians are justifiably reluctant to prescribe a child something that could cause hallucinations or other side-effects.” 

Eve, which has higher CBD quantities, looks to be even more effective than its’ THC counterparts and it also has lower toxicity and few side effects…thus making it an ideal treatment which can also be combined with other beneficial cannabis compounds. 

What Happens Now?

The statement released by the university explains that the next phase of the study will include investigating “what makes cancer cells sensitive and normal cells not, whether it is clinically relevant, and whether a variety of cancers respond.” They need to understand the mechanism in order to combine it with other anti-cannabis compounds, which will then amplify the effect (killing or inhibition of cancer cells). Dr. Dun and his team are getting more excited as each week more clues are revealed which helps the team get closer to their next phase goal. 

The team, like many others in the cannabis community, hopes to lessen the outdated, and quite frankly negative, stigma attached to cannabis and prescribing it to patients. 

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