Wednesday, April 10, 2013 at 1:19 p.m.
Marijuana has been used for medicinal purposes--relieving stress and pain and fighting hunger and nausea--for centuries if not millennia. But now, a pair of doctors in San Francisco claim that they've compiled reliable data showing that a certain compound in cannabis--cannabidiol--may actually cure cancer.
Unlike THC, the ingredient in marijuana that makes you feel stoned, cannabidiol is a non-toxic compound of the plant that has no psychoactive qualities, and it's been the focus of an ongoing series of trials at the San Francisco-based California Pacific Medical Center. There, physicians Sean McAllister and Pierre Desprez claim they've successfully used cannabidiol to fight animal genes involved in the spread of cancer. Now they hope to be allowed to conduct anti-cancer research using cannabidiol on actual humans.
"We found this one compound had a specific effect on metastatic cancer cells, very aggressive tumor cells," McAllister says. Cannabidiol, the research appears to show, helps shut down receptors that inhibit cancerous cells from metastasizing. "We find when you treat with [cannabidiol], you down regulate the expression of this protein, and that inhibits the disease process."
For his part, Dr. Desprez theorizes that cannabidiol has this effect because it may be part of the cannabis plant's natural defense mechanism. "So maybe the plant is making these compounds to combat the development of insects and we can use the compound to target cancer cells that act like embryonic cells," he says.
According to San Francisco's ABC-TV affiliate, KGO, McAllister and Desprez "believes the current results, coupled with the non-toxic nature of CBD, is now encouraging enough to warrant human trials, which they hope to secure funding for in the upcoming months. In anticipation, the team has designed two trial models, one for brain cancer and the other for breast cancer."
Best of luck with the research, docs!