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Cannabis Drug Could Extend Lives of Brain Cancer Patients, Study Finds

February 7, 2017
computer tomography diagnostics in medical center.
UK drugmaker GW Pharmaceuticals announced Tuesday it has achieved positive results in the second phase of a clinical study on Glioma, a cannabinoid-based therapy aimed at treating an aggressive form of brain cancer.

The study looked at 21 patients with recurrent glioblastoma multiform, or GBM, and found that participants who were given the drug—a combination of THC and CBD—lived significantly longer than those who took a placebo.

“These promising results are of particular interest as the pharmacology of the THC:CBD product appears to be distinct from existing oncology medications and may offer a unique and possibly synergistic option for future glioma treatment,” the study’s principal investigator Susan Short, an oncology professor at the Leeds Institute of Cancer and Pathology at St. James University Hospital, said in a statement.

Study participants who received Glioma showed an 83 percent one-year survival rate, GW reported, compared to a 52 percent rate among those who took a placebo. The median survival rate was 550 days among those who took the drug and 369 days among those who did not.

While the company says the treatment was “generally well tolerated”  by patients, there were some observed side effects.  Most common were vomiting, dizziness, nausea, headache, and constipation.

GBM, one of the most common types of brain tumor, is an aggressive cancer that arises in the brain or spinal cord. It carries a poor prognosis, with only 28.4 percent of patients surviving longer than a year after diagnosis. Only 3.4 percent of patients survive to year five.


How GW Pharma Could Use US Patents to Shape the Future of Medical Cannabis

CEO Justin Gover said in a statement that the latest results continue to validate the importance of researching cannabis as a treatment for cancer and other diseases.

“These data are a catalyst for the acceleration of GW’s oncology research interests,” he said, “and over the coming months, we expect to consult with external experts and regulatory agencies on a pivotal clinical development program for THC:CBD in GBM and to expand our research interests in other forms of cancer.”

GW Pharma is already known widely for its seizure drug Epidiolex, a cannabis-derived treatment that has shown promising results in reducing symptoms in children with a rare form of epilepsy. Beginning in 2007, the company has conducted research into cannabis as a treatment for various forms of cancer, including brain, lung, breast, pancreatic, melanoma, ovarian, gastric, renal, prostate, and bladder. It has also investigated the possible use of cannabis to treat diseases such as diabetes, schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, and multiple sclerosis.

The company’s research has resulted in a number of registered patents that could become increasingly important as medical cannabis expands both in the United States and globally.

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Gage Peake

Gage Peake is a former staff writer for Leafly, where he specialized in data journalism, sports, and breaking news coverage. He's a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's College of Journalism and Mass Communications.

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  • Moldavian_Bot_Farm

    Federal government should be spending money to fund studies to treat cancer, not spending money to imprison people without cause.

    • ceebee

      No, the government should not; that’s part of the problem.

  • ceebee

    It does extend and improve life. I have supplied a CO2 extracted concentrates of Critical Mass (0.73% CBG, 30.75% THC, 29.67% CBD, 0.81% CBC, 1.04% Myrcene, 0.14% Humulene, 1.47% Caryophyllene) and Sweet Sour Widow (0.69% CBG, 46.78% THC, 16.72% CBD, 0.99% CBC, 0.92% alpha-Pinene, 0.16% Humulene, 0.65% Caryophyllene). It was a crude attempt for a desperate parent what that made substantial and medical scan improvements in in young man’s health (reduction and actual disappearance of malignant lesions) but was ultimately not successful for lack of medical guidance and support. I later spoke with Isabella Ryan of CannaKids, with all her successful experiences with patents, glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is the hardest even with cannibals. However, even this crude relatively uneducated attempt had the MOST success than “Standard of Care” failed attempts.

  • In conjunction with an oral chemotherapy drug called Temozolomide. A vital point which you have entirely overlooked!

    • ceebee

      True, this is an option, but one must have (at least on this side of the pond) 1) buy-in by ones oncologist 2) an oncologist that is willing to challenge their State Medical Review Board with the risk of losing ones medical practice. = unlikely. The “science based” “Standard of Care” over in the US is making doctors Standard of Care drones. Really the root cause of all of this is the public’s demand to be protected and the resulting the Kefauver Harris Amendment (requiring clinical trials and the resulting industry).

  • Open Minds

    MRI of 8 month old child with brain tumor cured with cannabis oil. No other treatment was used. MRI’s are shown at 1:13 seen into video.

    • ceebee

      I have the scans much the same of the young patient in Wisconsin (21 yrs) that I was supplying (see below).

  • Kaabi

    This is the first placebo-controlled trial proving cannabis has an anticancer effect in humans. As a comment below pointed out, it is indeed combined with chemotherapy, but that doesn’t diminish from the significance of this. Those only on the chemotherapy lived an average six months less than those also on the cannabis. That’s huge. Moreover, this study backs up the massive quantities of anecdotal evidence of people claiming cannabis has put cancers into remission. It is time to take these stories seriously. For so long, skeptics have said the anecdotal evidence would fall apart under scientific scrutiny. But now that we’ve had the scrutiny that we’ve asked for, it is working, just as expected.

    What is most impressive is that such significant results were achieved with what is likely a very low dose of low-quality cannabis. The drug in question is likely Sativex, which is virtually just THC and CBD with very little other cannabinoids or terpenes. They also probably only used 10-50mg tops per day. To achieve cancer remissions, hundreds of milligrams are required. It is amazing that such a low dose was able to extend lives by six months, that is impressive.

    If you want to read dozens of human testimonials from doctors, caregivers, corporations, dispensaries, and more, download my book at the free link below. It also deeply analyzes the evidence showing how both phytocannabinoids AND our own endocannabinoids kill cancer cells through similar mechanisms. That fact seems to explain why this is working so well in humans. We all need to band behind this critical application of medical cannabis to help people and legalize its use throughout the world!

    • Sativex is extremely high quality, whole plant cannabis oil. The CO2 extraction process used is calibrated to preserve as many of the minor cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids and other compounds as possible. It is far from “just THC and CBD”.

      • Kaabi

        I’m reasonably certain the terpenes in Sativex are low, CO2 oils generally have lower or nonexistent terpene levels and it would be in the company’s interest as a pharmaceutical company to have them low so as to cause more consistent effects. I don’t think they are going to extra efforts to preserve those. I’d love to see lab results. In any case, it is clearly good enough to result in these significant clinical trial results, although I wish they had used a higher dose (assuming it was at a level consistent with previous trials).

        • James Peters

          GW Pharma produced a number of standardized extract preparations, including one which is high in THC, and another, which is high in CBD. Sativex contains equal proportions of these, and, hence, almost equal amounts of THC and CBD. They make up approximately 70% of the product, with 5% being others cannabinoids, the remainder being terpenoids, flavonoids, sterols, alkanes, and other molecules found in the plants they use.

          In the Phase Ib and IIa trials then they will include dose-expansion arms. These are used to better characterize safety/efficacy. In the up coming Phase IIb then they will be looking to determine the therapeutic dose range and confirm efficacy.

          • Dr. Feelgood

            With the Primary and Secondary Production of Flavonoids produced via abiotic & biotic plant steering in order to accumulate this within the cannabis plant. Moreover, within this Bioengineered environment relating to light quality, intensity, spectrum, excitation method, ambient heat in correlation to water quality, dissolved oxygen content, temperature, electrical conductivity, ph, mineral content, uv treated, etc…. along with nutrient quality, availability, temp, ph, ec, do as well as your beneficial bacteria and pathogens this put together like a sheet of music – thus we have a crude baseline for Anthocyanin and Flavanols and Flavonoids, Terpinoids, Terpenes, Cannabinoids, and other molecular structures to which in the end we have a Full Spectrum grown plant that would have these properties able to cure most human disease.

            My UV highly regulated environment allows this study and my support to contribute as real world evidence. See more examples of Cannabis that can cure CANCER — SEE—->> Instagram —- BoutiqueBuddz

  • ceebee

    I think what people really gotta get strait is what we are talking about when it comes to “cannabis” treatment. It is much, much more complicated. I liken it to “wine”… lets say that “wine” cures (helps/whatever) cancer: soooo, what “kind” of wine? Red, White, Rose? In what conditions was it grown? Water, Sun, Soil? (their “terroir”) In a Greenhouse? These all govern the plant’s biological output. What biological outputs retained? Wat are the targets? Terpenes? Flavonoids? (wine has these, even from the oak and their “terroir”). Cannabinoids? (back to cannabis). To add to the complexity, how is the product proceed? And now that it is an agricultural product: Pesticides? Herbicides? Anybody testing for those? And WHO is testing? Standardization? Lab ISO certified? Lab GLP certified? Audited by creditable certifying body or just granted a pass by the state? Bottom line: what are we getting, is it safe and is it repeatable?

    It’s not just “cannabis cures cancer” is what I am saying. Bottom line, there is allot to in the works, being developed and yet to be done. There is allot of very technical research papers readily available to lead one in the right direction without putting your loved one on the horror of a randomized clinical trial.

    Back to the article at hand now: many of the molecular constituents in cannabis, in some form of combination (NOT just “non-psychoactive” CBD) have a particular mechanism of action that causes non/low-inflammatory cancer cell death (see the plethora of peer reviewed research papers on PubMed). This is a good thing when it comes to glioblastoma multiforme, don’t want too much inflammation in the brain (cerebral edema). Hence all the studies going in in Spain and Israel (particularly the former).

    In light of Cancer Immunotherapy revolution started off by Dr. Polly Matzinger’s Danger Model of Immunology (1994), chemo administered under immunosuppression: a losing battle. The key is to prompt a immune responses controlled enough to not cause cerebral edema and prompt the immune system to identify the cancer as “danger”. This can be done in various ways, however, this is much to creative for a doctor under the threat of a state medical peer review board with many many many roadblocks and vested interests to prevent… one can do it overseas on one’s own dime.

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