Research out of University of Newcastle in Australia indicates cannabis has the potential to kill or inhibit cancer cells without impacting normal cells.
Cancer researcher Dr Matt Dun collaborated with Australian Natural Therapeutics Group (ANTG), which produces a variety of cannabis with high levels of cannabidiol (CBD) and low levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) called Eve.
We mentioned ANTG and Eve last year when the company was successful in having the strain listed on Australia’s Register of Therapeutic Goods (ARTG) as being suitable for export. ANTG notes Eve as has having 11-17% CBD and less than 0.1% THC.
ANTG asked Dr. Dun to test Eve against cancer.
“…so we initially used leukaemia cells and were really surprised by how sensitive they were,” he said. “At the same time, the cannabis didn’t kill normal bone marrow cells, nor normal healthy neutrophils [white blood cells].”
Dr Dun and his team also ran comparisons between other cannabis strains containing THC and those with low levels of THC but with high levels of CBD. For both leukaemia and paediatric brainstem glioma, the cannabis with high CBD levels was more effective at killing cancer cells than THC varieties.
The research also looked at other studies delving into cannabis’s potential anti-cancer properties; both in terms of THC and CBD.
“The CBD variety looks to have greater efficacy, low toxicity and fewer side-effects, which potentially makes it an ideal complementary therapy to combine with other anti-cancer compounds,” said Dr. Dun.
Dr. Dun isn’t stopping here – the next stage involves investigating what makes cancer cells sensitive while leaving normal cells unscathed, clinical relevancy aspects, and testing on a variety of cancers.
It’s important to note this research happened in a laboratory environment. While any news regarding the use of cannabis in cancer treatment can be very encouraging, patients and their families need to manage their expectations and consult with their oncologist before varying, stopping or adding a treatment. Dr Dun stressed that CBD-enriched cannabis isn’t ready for clinical use as an anti-cancer agent at this point in time.
The study report: Can Hemp Help? Low-THC Cannabis and Non-THC Cannabinoids for the Treatment of Cancer, was published in the journal Cancers.