Pot Head

Glioblastoma is a nasty disease. Basically, it’s a brain tumor — and a death sentence. It’s real booger to treat. There’s that whole blood-brain barrier thing that inhibits the efficacy of standard pharmaceuticals. The tumor cells are very resistant to treatment. The human brain is lousy at fixing itself. This thing is a real headache (sorry).

Enter the cannabinoids. Several in vitro experiments have been performed with surprising results.

A synthetic cannabinoid, win 55 212-2, has been used with some promise. THC has been experimented with as well as cannabidiol. The surprising part is that THC was a better choice because it was more selective than the synthetic and produced less disruption of the normal cell morphology.

And further, more interesting even, is the experiments using both THC and CBD at a ratio of 4:1  (respectively).  The treatment of Glioblastoma cells with both compounds led to significant modulations of the cell cycle and induction of reactive oxygen species and apoptosis as well as specific modulations of extracellular signal-related kinase and caspase activities. That didn’t happen quite like that when only one or the other compound was used.

What that means is, THC does this; CBD does that. When you put the two together they work in some sort of (as yet unknown) synergistic way that produces a different result. Together, they trigger a response that they won’t individually.

I love this stuff, man. I think it’s neat on several levels. Number one, whole plant cannabis compounds are showing great promise in a number of different cancers. There’s a particularly nasty breast cancer that tends to metastasize in the lungs. The preliminary work with cannabidiol indicates it kicks the crap out of it. Curing cancers, I don’t care how, is a good thing.

The second thing is the science, for science sake (so to speak). To date, all indications are that whole plant compounds are much more effective than synthetics. We are beginning to learn the why of it but not the how. A synthetic is one compound. As the Glioblastoma work indicates the best results are obtained when at least two phytocannabinoids are used. Some how, some way, these things develop a different modality when they are combined. And we are just talking about THC and CBD. There’s another 60 or so cannabinoids within the whole plant that we know very little about.

I’ve said it before, I believe the future of medicinal cannabis is the pharmaceutical industry. I think too, though, that they need to pull their heads out of their cubicles and take a different tact than their standard paradigm. Obviously, whole plant derivatives are proving to be more effective than the synthetics. Yeah, I know — it’s not worth a plug nickel to the drug outfits if they can’t patent their goods. Processes can be patented though, right? And even with synthetics, what if several compounds were combined in one dose? Somewhere someone’s got to be experimenting with that. It’s too obvious for it not to be pursued.

Imagine this post closes with a commercial. C’mon, drag out your imagination here for a moment. There’s a shot of a MRI showing a gnarly brain tumor:

“This is your brain.”

The image changes to a clear MRI:

“This is your brain on pot.”

“Cannabinoids are not for everybody. Side effects can include an increased appetite, a reduction in neuropathic pain, and a restful night’s sleep.”



  1. Glen Ropella said,

    September 22, 2010 at 5:14 pm

    Do you happen to have some links to some of the journal articles for this stuff? Just the DOIs would be adequate for me. And thanks for publishing this stuff.

  2. capndrift said,

    September 22, 2010 at 7:09 pm

    I must confess ignorance.

    Enter “Complutense University Glioblastoma Cannabis” into your search program and perhaps you’ll find the articles you’re after.

    And, you’re welcome.

  3. capndrift said,

    September 22, 2010 at 7:57 pm

    Here’s a copy and pasted abstract of the study that can be found on PubMed.

    Cannabinoids, the active components of Cannabis sativa L. and their derivatives, inhibit tumor growth in laboratory animals by inducing apoptosis of tumor cells and impairing tumor angiogenesis. It has also been reported that these compounds inhibit tumor cell spreading, but the molecular targets of this cannabinoid action remain elusive. Here, we evaluated the effect of cannabinoids on matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) expression and its effect on tumor cell invasion. Local administration of Delta(9)-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the major active ingredient of cannabis, down-regulated MMP-2 expression in gliomas generated in mice, as determined by Western blot, immunofluorescence, and real-time quantitative PCR analyses. This cannabinoid-induced inhibition of MMP-2 expression in gliomas (a) was MMP-2-selective, as levels of other MMP family members were unaffected; (b) was mimicked by JWH-133, a CB(2) cannabinoid receptor-selective agonist that is devoid of psychoactive side effects; (c) was abrogated by fumonisin B1, a selective inhibitor of ceramide biosynthesis; and (d) was also evident in two patients with recurrent glioblastoma multiforme. THC inhibited MMP-2 expression and cell invasion in cultured glioma cells. Manipulation of MMP-2 expression by RNA interference and cDNA overexpression experiments proved that down-regulation of this MMP plays a critical role in THC-mediated inhibition of cell invasion. Cannabinoid-induced inhibition of MMP-2 expression and cell invasion was prevented by blocking ceramide biosynthesis and by knocking-down the expression of the stress protein p8. As MMP-2 up-regulation is associated with high progression and poor prognosis of gliomas and many other tumors, MMP-2 down-regulation constitutes a new hallmark of cannabinoid antitumoral activity.

    PMID: 18339876 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]Free Article

  4. Glen Ropella said,

    September 23, 2010 at 6:30 am

    Excellent! Thanks.

    Sorry for the cryptic DOI ref. (Digital Object Identifier) cf. http://doi.org

    The DOI for that article is: doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-07-5176

  5. capndrift said,

    September 23, 2010 at 7:00 am

    Hmm, this is embarrassing-
    Though that research is related those aren’t the studies I was referring to in my original post, and I’m having trouble locating it again (hides blushing face).

    The particular study I mentioned above used a synthetic and two phytocannabinoids in different combinations.

    I suppose it’s no big deal. The evidence of the efficacy of cannabinoids in tough to treat cancer(s) is the main point, I reckon.

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