Saturday, April 28, 2007

Stoned lung cancer cells stopped in their tracks!

The beauty of this study is that we are showing that a substance of abuse, if used prudently, may offer a new road to therapy against lung cancer.
--Anju Preet, Ph.D.

Medical marijuana may not be just for nausea and pain control anymore. Dr. Preet and colleagues discovered that THC or Δ-9 tetrahydrocannabinol which is the active ingredient in the drug inhibits the growth and spread of an aggressive form of lung cancer.

Cellular cannabinoid receptors in cells can be activated by endocannabinoids--naturally produced marijuana-ish sorts of molecules--as well as by THC. Once occupied by the right sort of molecule, these receptors participate in various biological functions such as pain and anxiety control, and inflammatory processes. One THC derivative called Marinol has been approved for appetite stimulation in cancer and AIDS patients. Another drug called Acomplia blocks the cannabinoid receptors and is awaiting FDA approval for the metabolic syndrome, a pre-diabetic condition associated with notable weight gain around the waistline.

These Harvard investigators found that THC inhibited the progression of lung cancer cell growth both in petri dishes and in mice. While the mechanism of THC's anti-cancer action is unclear, the researchers speculate that THC may interfere with the formation of the cancer's blood supply.

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