An oral cannabis spray can provide a genuine benefit to those suffering with brain cancer. Does this sound farfetched? Cannabis is often glorified as a sort of miracle substance with unlimited application and potentital. So is this another wild conjecture by cannabis enthusiasts? In a British study, scientists are examining for the first time whether cannabis-based sprays can be used to treat brain tumors. And this world first study has actually produced promising results.
Every year in England, glioblastomas, the most aggressive variant of brain cancer, is diagnosed in more than 2200 people. Despite all medical attempts, it almost always comes back. No amount of therapy and surgery conistently prevents it from returning. From the initial diagnosis, patients are generally expected to live less than less than 18 months. For this reason there is large interest in finding new alternative treatments. As there is evidence to suggest that cannabis has anticarcinogenic properties, there is potential in exploring this avenue.
Research and funding
Researchers will be testing the addition of GW Pharma’s Sativex to a currently used chemotherapy drug called temozolomide, to see how it could help treat patients suffering from relapsing glioblastoma. They will evaluate it’s potential to prolong the lives of thousands.
After a 25% drop of revenue from Covid-19, the charity had to suspend its regular program of research grants. Brain Tumor Charity launched an appeal to raise £450,000 (€530,000 or $630,000), to cover these costs.
The University of Leeds has funded the trial and a team of researchers is leading it. The research was coordinated by the Cancer Research UK Clinical Trials Unit in Birmingham.
Experts hope that Sativex will be added to the NHS as a treatment option for patients with glioblastoma if the trial is successful.
New avenues opened for brain tumor treatment
Sativex, an oral spray, contains the psychoactive compound tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) as well as cannabidiol (CBD). It is one of the three cannabis-based drugs that are currently being used by the UK’s NHS, or National Health Service. The drug is already seeing use in the treatment of multiple sclerosis.
A preliminary study in 27 patients with glioblastoma has shown promising results. However, plans are in place to recruit more than 300 patients in the UK for a larger research project. The health service and cancer charities have banded together to find a way to support brain tumors. If the Phase II funding is available, the trial will involve 15 NHS hospitals.
Dr. David Jenkinson, interim chief executive officer at the charity, stated that they hope that the trial will open the door to a long-awaited lifeline for patients with glioblastoma. It could give them precious extra time to live and create memories with loved ones.