Cannabis Drug Trial for Brain Cancer gets Green Light

Brain Cancer Cannabis - GCI Content Hub - Global Cannabis Intelligence

Trial to use cannabis oral spray to treat aggressive form of brain cancer will begin in the UK early next year.

The trial assessing the effectiveness of a cannabis-based drug in treating an aggressive form of brain cancer is the first of its kind.

A campaign launched by the Brain Tumour charity to fund the three-year study raised £400,000. The public appeal was backed by Olympic gold medallist Tom Daley, whose father Robert died aged 40 from a brain tumour in 2011.

The trial will commence recruitment of 230 patients at 15 UK hospitals in early 2022. Led by an expert at the University of Leeds, the trial will evaluate whether adding Sativex — a medicinal oral spray containing cannabinoids — to chemotherapy could extend life expectancy for patients diagnosed with a recurrent glioblastoma.

The Sativex mouth spray to be used in the drug trials, manufactured by GW Pharmaceuticals, has recently received approval to be launched on the French market, for regulated use on patients suffering from multiple sclerosis.

Glioblastoma is the most common and aggressive form of brain cancer, with over 2000 patients diagnosed each year in England alone. Even following intensive treatment, average survival is only 12 to 18 months after diagnosis, the Brain Tumour Charity has said.

If the trial succeeds, researchers hope that cannabinoid medicine will become a much-needed addition to NHS treatment for glioblastoma. There have been no additional developments in treatment of this aggressive brain tumour in over a decade.

Principal researcher Susan Short, professor of clinical oncology and neuro-oncology at the University of Leeds says that current treatments are largely unsuccessful in preventing the regrowth of these tumours, most of which recur within a year.

The study will monitor whether adding Sativex to chemotherapy extends life expectancy, delays the progression of diseases or improves quality of life.

Cannabinoids have well-described effects on the brain and there is long-standing interest among patients and researchers alike regarding the potential for their use across different cancers.

Professor Short explains that there is evidence suggesting that cannabis could slow tumour growth by targeting cannabinoid receptors on the cell surface of glioblastoma brain tumours.

This major randomised trial is an exciting development which builds on earlier findings that the oral cannabis spray can safely be added to temozolomide chemotherapy.

Dr David Jenkinson, interim chief executive at the Brain Tumour charity, expresses excitement that this is a world-first study which could further efforts to effectively treat the most aggressive form of brain tumour and accelerate answers for patients worldwide.

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