While cannabis is currently a controlled substance, the drug may play a major role in the cancer treatments of the future. New research released this week has revealed that a strain of cannabis has proven to harm cancer cells, without hurting the healthy tissue in the body.
The research was carried out by Dr Matt Dun and researchers from the University of Newcastle and Hunter Medical Research Institute. In the laboratory, researchers used a strain of cannabis known as ‘Eve’, developed by biotechnology company Australian Natural Therapeutics Group.
Grown in Australia, Eve contains high levels of CBD and less than 1% THC – one of cannabis’s psychoactive components.
When tested, Eve was found to kill or inhibit the growth of leukaemia and paediatric brainstem glioma cells without harming white blood or bone marrow cells. When comparing Eve to forms of cannabis containing high levels of THC, it was also found the CBD was the more effective anti-cancer agent.
As part of the research, Dr Dun’s team also looked into over 150 academic papers on the anti-cancer benefits of CBD and THC. In the paper published by the international journal Cancers, the team wrote:
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.
Specifically, Dr Dun feels treatments containing CBD would be suitable in cases where normal medications will interrupt the patient quality of life, stopping them from driving and causing hallucinations and severe side-effects in children.
However, while Dr Dun and his team are excited about these results, he warned that CBD is far from ready for clinical use. Researchers will continue the study going forward, with hopes of determining which cancers Eve can treat and why cancer cells respond when normal cells do not.
Their findings are consistent with research published in early June – which found that CBD was toxic to a form of brain cancer called ‘Glioblastoma’. You can read about that study here.