Cannabis medicine is well-renowned for symptom management and the relief it provides to many patients battling with a wide variety of illnesses. However, promising new research could unlock the door – and perhaps more importantly, provide clinical data – legitimizing its utility in helping remediate, and potentially even kill, cancerous cells.
In a fascinating, access-all-areas conversation on the Professionally Cannabis Podcast, examining the latest and greatest research emanating out of Dr. Meiri’s labs at the Technion and CannaSoul, it is hoped that the science community will soon be able to see the possible therapeutic synergies between breakthrough cannabinoid therapeutics and traditional cancer treatment.
The world-renowned researcher – whose cannabinoid studies span across different forms of cancer, Alzheimer’s, sleep, endometriosis, and a plethora of neurodegenerative diseases – believes that soon to be published research will push the dial forward on the clinical outcomes that can be achieved using cannabis – a plant that has been used within medical treatment for centuries.
Can Cannabis Work Effectively in Conjunction with Cancer Treatment?
Referring to data in Israel, where approximately 25,000 cancer patients are recipients of cannabis prescriptions to help ameliorate symptoms (of the illness itself, as well as negative side effects from cancer drugs and chemotherapy), Dr. Meiri suggests that now the big question for the scientific community is “whether cannabis can fight the cancer”?
Citing the plethora of illnesses that sit under the ‘cancer’ umbrella, Dr. Meiri makes it clear that “cancer is a given name to hundreds of different diseases: breast cancer, prostate cancer, liver cancer, and glioblastoma are different diseases. We call them cancer, we put them in a block, it’s called the six hallmarks and every time that there is a, b, c, d, and e, we will call it cancer; but we are treating them as totally different creatures.”
Specifically, Dr. Meiri remarks that he and his team have had major research breakthroughs pertaining to three areas: leukaemia, breast cancer and immunotherapy (studying tumour microenvironments).
Cannabis and Breast Cancer
With regard to breast cancer, Dr. Meiri outlines that “more than 60% of breast cancer patients will be hormonal sensitive”, meaning that for pre-menopausal women with certain types of breast cancer “it will be very aggressive; but later after menopause, when there is less of these hormones [progesterone and oestrogen] in in the women body, it will be less aggressive”.
He explains how there are drugs that are good at blocking these hormones, which stymie the ability of the breast cancer cells to divide and grow, however, issues lie in the fact that “women need to take them chronically between five to 10 years and there are quite severe side effects of these drugs, changing the hormonal balance and [creating] other problems.”
Resulting from said side effects, Dr. Meiri exclaims that “more than 30% of women will stop [treatment] after one year, more than 50% will stop after three years; so, they are not finishing the treatment which causes a problem or a fear that the cancer will come back.”
To tackle this issue, research findings from Dr. Meiri’s lab show that they have found a specific strain of cannabis that makes cells much more sensitive to these drugs, in a process called ‘priming’. In this, it is possible, in conjunction with this particular cannabis strain, to reduce the dose of Tamoxifen (one of the most widely used drugs for breast cancer) 20-fold and achieve the same results.
Remarkably, Dr. Meiri claims that he and his team have discovered “new phytocannabinoids, not a known one, that is actually blocking the oestrogen receptor to enter to the nucleus, and by that, reducing all the downstream effectors of these oestrogen receptors, and so on, and makes the cells more sensitive to the drug.”
The research has thus far presented successful results at the pre-clinical stage, in mice model, and will soon be moving to clinical trials.
To learn more about Dr. Meiri’s cannabinoid research for cancer and beyond, tune into his interview on the Professionally Cannabis Podcast.
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