First Human Trials With Cannabis For Brain Cancer Are Beginning

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According to statistics published by the American Cancer Society, persons unfortunate enough to have been diagnosed with the most insidious form of cancer in the brain, Glioblastoma Multiforme (GBM), have anywhere from a 4 percent (ages 55-64) to a 17 percent (ages 20-44) 5-year survival rate. GBM diagnoses account for as many as 50 percent of the approximately 22,500 new cases of brain cancers in the US each year. Treatment options, thus far, are very limited.

A novel new treatment study for GBM is currently being launched in Europe. It should be noted that due to our draconian drug laws in this country, no university but one would even be able to attempt a study on the level that GW Pharmaceuticals is currently undertaking. The University of Mississippi is currently the only university research facility that has been granted DEA permission for marijuana cultivation in the US.

GW Pharmaceutical is a bio-pharmaceutical company that has developed a proprietary cannabinoid product platform. Their goal now is to develop treatments based on their discovery and to make them available commercially. As mentioned above, there are too few treatment options for GBM. GW Pharmaceuticals research into the effects of cannabis on brain tumors is, therefore, more critical than ever.

Researchers and scientists have learned, via pre-clinical research, that cannabis has actually inhibited glioma cell growth. Additionally, the presence of cannabinoids in tissue cells has presented an improved outcome for temozolomide, a typical treatment for the condition. In an article on hempforfuture.com, GW Pharmaceutical stated,

We are very excited about moving this compound into further human study and the prospects of cannabinoids as new anti-cancer treatments. This is GW’s first clinical study of cannabinoids as a potential treatment to inhibit tumor growth. We believe this clinical program demonstrates the flexibility and broad application of GW’s cannabinoids platform to treat significant, unmet therapeutic needs. – Dr Steven Wright, Director of Research and Development at GW

For now, GW Pharmaceutical is beginning with a study group of 20 individuals. The two-part study will consist of two phases. The first phase, conducted as open-label, is intended to determine how well the cannabinoid interacts with temozolomide. The second phase, a double-blind and randomized placebo-controlled study, will then place each of the 20 participants into either the placebo group or the group that receives the experimental cannabis-based treatment.

While the legalization of marijuana in this country is in its infancy, the US will continue to be outperformed in the search for the therapeutic effects of that little green plant.