Pancreatic cancer is rare, but deadly. It makes up just 3% of cancer cases, yet as many as 20% of those afflicted with it will survive their first year, and only 8% survive more than 5. In fact, pancreatic cancer is predicted to be the second leading cause of cancer-related death by 2020.
The good news is that medical cannabis may provide a remedy, according to recent discoveries by scientists from Harvard University’s Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
Published in the journal Frontiers of Oncology last July, the study revealed a chemical found in medical marijuana has demonstrated “significant therapy potential” in the treatment of pancreatic cancer.
Flavonoids — Cannabis Cancer Fighters
The researchers found that FBL-03G, a derivative of a cannabis “flavonoid” — the name for a naturally-occurring plant compound that provides vibrant color, may have great potential in fighting cancer, especially pancreatic cancer. Eventually found to have anti-inflammatory benefits, cannabis flavonoids were discovered by a London researcher named Marilyn Barrett in 1986.
But cannabis flavonoids make up only .14% of the plant and would require vast quantities to study scientifically. However, recent changes in genetic engineering made larger amounts accessible, opening the gates to research.
Compound May Fight Cancers throughout the Body
Scientists tested FBL-03G on deadly cancers with “major” results, so described by Wilfred Ngwa, PhD, an assistant professor at Harvard and one of the study’s researchers.
“The most significant conclusion is that tumor-targeted delivery of flavonoids, derived from cannabis, enabled both local and metastatic tumor cell kill, significantly increasing survival from pancreatic cancer,” Ngwa told Yahoo Lifestyle. “This has major significance, given that pancreatic cancer is particularly refractory to current therapies.”
Most surprisingly, the compound works to attack other cancer cells elsewhere in the body and may work in line with the body’s natural immune system.
“We were quite surprised that the drug could inhibit the growth of cancer cells in other parts of the body, representing metastasis, that were not targeted by the treatment,” says Ngwa. “This suggests that the immune system is involved as well, and we are currently investigating this mechanism.”
And since cancer cells tend to spread throughout the body, this finding is especially good news.
“If successfully translated clinically, this will have major impact in treatment of pancreatic cancer,” says Ngwa.
A Continuing Study
The research is still in the beginning stages, but the results so far look promising.
Yahoo Lifestyle reports:
“The next step for the Harvard researchers is to complete ongoing preclinical studies, which Ngwa hopes will be completed by the end of 2020. That could set the stage for testing the new treatment in humans, opening up a new window of hope for a group long in need of it.”
Cancer is among the list of qualifying conditions for Ohio’s medical marijuana program. To use medical cannabis legally in Ohio, you must first have a condition that is approved for treatment in Ohio, receive a recommendation from a qualified medical marijuana doctor in Ohio, and register for a medical marijuana card.