The main chemical in marijuana appears to aid in the destruction of brain cancer cells, offering hope for future anti-cancer therapies, researchers in Spain wrote in a new study.
The authors from the Complutense University in Madrid, working with scientists from other universities, found that the active component of marijuana, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), causes cancer cells to undergo a process called autophagy - the breakdown that occurs when the cell essentially self-digests.
Potential anti-tumoural agent
The research, which appears in the April edition of US-published Journal of Clinical Investigation, demonstrates that THC and related "cannabinoids" appear to be "a new family of potential an-titumoral agent".
The authors wrote that the chemical may prove useful in the development of future "anti-tumoural agents".
The scientists conducted their research on mice, first stimulating the growth of cancer in the lab animals, then injecting them with a daily dose of THC near the site of their tumours.
The researchers also analysed the tumours of two patients in an experimental trial looking at the effects of THC on a highly aggressive form of brain tumour, and saw findings "in line with the preclinical evidence" first observed in the laboratory mice. – (Sapa, March 2009)
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