A compound found in cannabis may prove to be effective at helping stop the spread of breast cancer cells throughout the body.
That's the finding of a new study published in the latest issue of the journal Molecular Cancer Therapeutics.
The study, by scientists at the California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute, is raising hope that CBD, a compound found in Cannabis sativa, could be the first non-toxic agent to show promise in treating metastatic forms of breast cancer.
“Right now we have a limited range of options in treating aggressive forms of cancer,” says Sean D. McAllister, Ph.D., a cancer researcher at CPMCRI and the lead author of the study. “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.”
The researchers used CBD to inhibit the activity of a gene called Id-1, which is believed to be responsible for the aggressive spread of cancer cells throughout the body, away from the original tumor site.
“We know that Id-1 is a key regulator of the spread of breast cancer,” says Pierre-Yves Desprez, Ph.D., a cancer researcher at CPMCRI and the senior author of the study. “We also know that Id-1 has also been found at higher levels in other forms of cancer. So what is exciting about this study is that if CBD 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.”
Unlike cannabis or THC, an ingredient also isolated from marijuana that is used in some medical treatments, CBD does not have any psychoactive properties, so using it would not violate any state or federal laws. However, the researchers point out that this is not a recommendation for people with breast cancer to smoke marijuana. They say it is highly unlikely that effective concentrations of CBD could be reached by smoking cannabis.
The study was primarily funded by the California Breast Cancer Research Program.