Marijuana proof best for lung cancer treatment. The active element in marijuana cuts tumor growth in common lung cancer in half and significantly decreases the ability of the cancer to spread, say researchers at Harvard University who tested the chemical in both lab and mouse studies.The compound “seems to have a suppressive effect on unequivocal lines of cancer cells,” explained Dr. Len Horovitz, a pulmonary specialist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.
They say this is the first set of experiments to show that the compound, Delta-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), inhibits EGF-induced development in epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) expressing non-small cell lung cancer cell lines. Lung cancers that over-express EGFR are usually highly aggressive and resistant to chemotherapy.THC that targets cannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2 is similar in function to endocannabinoids, which are cannabinoids that are naturally produced in the body and activate these receptors. The researchers suggest that THC or other designer agents that activate these receptors might be used in a targeted fashion for lung cancer treatment. “The beauty of this study is that we are showing that a substance of abuse, if used prudently, may offer a new way to therapy against lung cancer,” said Anju Preet, Ph.D., a researcher in the Division of Experimental Medicine.
In the present study, the researchers first reveal that two different lung cancer cell lines as well as patient lung tumor samples express CB1 and CB2, and that non-toxic doses of THC inhibited growth and widen in the cell lines. “When the cells are pretreated with THC, they have less EGFR stimulated invasion as measured by various in-vitro assays,” Preet said.Then, for three weeks, researchers injected standard doses of THC into mice that had been implanted with human lung cancer cells, and found that tumors were reduced in size and weight by about 50 percent in treated animals compared to a control group. There was also about a 60 percent reduction in cancer lesions on the lungs in these mice as well as a consequential limiting in protein markers associated with cancer progression.
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For more on lung cancer, head to the American Lung Association.
Norman Edelman, M.D., chief medical officer, American Lung Association, New York City; Len Horovitz, M.D., pulmonary specialist, Lenox Hill Hospital, New York City; April 17, 2007, presentations, annual meeting, American Association for Cancer Research, Los Angeles