About 2,200 people in England are diagnosed every year with the condition, making it the commonest form of brain cancer.
“The recent early-stage findings were really promising and we now look forward to understanding whether adding Sativex to chemotherapy could offer life extension and improved quality of life, which would be a major step forward in our ability to treat this devastating disease,” added Jenkinson.
“The study was not designed to test whether Sativex was better in terms of survival. But it did suggest that some patients who had Sativex did better than expected and better than those who just had chemotherapy,” she said.
Doctors will give patients across the UK with a recurrent brain tumour called a glioblastoma the drug, which is known as Sativex, alongside a chemotherapy medication – temozolomide – in a clinical trial in an attempt to kill off cancerous cells.
Glioblastoma is an aggressive and hard-to-treat form of brain tumour that almost always comes back, despite doctors using surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy to tackle it. Those diagnosed only live for 12 to 18 months while those with a recurrent glioblastoma survive for just 10 months.
“Our experiments showed that CBD slows cancer cell growth and is toxic to both canine and human glioblastoma cell lines,” said Mr. Gross. “Importantly, the differences in anti-cancer affects between CBD isolate and extract appear to be negligible.”
Mr. Gross was scheduled to present this research at the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics annual meeting in San Diego this month. Though the meeting, to be held in conjunction with the 2020 Experimental Biology conference, was canceled in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, the research team’s abstract was published in this month’s issue of The FASEB Journal.
The new work revealed that the toxic effects of CBD are mediated through the cell’s natural pathway for apoptosis, a form of programmed cell death. The researchers also observed that CBD-induced cell death was characterized by large, swollen intracellular vesicles before the membrane begins to bulge and breakdown. This was true for all the cell lines studied.
Experimental Biology is an annual meeting that attracts more than 12,000 scientists and exhibitors from five host societies and more than two dozen guest societies. With a mission to share the newest scientific concepts and research findings shaping clinical advances, the meeting offers an unparalleled opportunity for exchange among scientists from across the U.S. and the world who represent dozens of scientific areas, from laboratory to translational to clinical research. www.experimentalbiology.org #expbio
Mr. Gross and colleagues examined human and canine glioblastoma cells because the cancer shows striking similarities between the two species. They tested the effects of CBD isolate, which contains 100 percent CBD, and CBD extract, which contains small amounts of other natural occurring compounds such as cannabigerol and tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC.
The drug, already used in treating multiple sclerosis, was found to be tolerable in combination with chemotherapy, with the potential to extend survival, in a phase I trial in glioblastomas earlier this year.
“I took the oral spray 10 times a day, and it was easy as I could take it wherever we were going, even while out for dinner. While I don’t know whether I had Sativex or the placebo, since the trial finished in 2016, all my MRI scans have been clear.
Tackling aggressive brain cancer
“Glioblastoma brain tumours have been shown to have receptors to cannabinoids on their cell surfaces, and laboratory studies on glioblastoma cells have shown these drugs may slow tumour growth and work particularly well when used with temozolomide.
Stephen Lee, 62 from Leyland in Lancashire, took part in the phase I trial of Sativex in 2015 after his glioblastoma returned following initial treatment. Stephen was first diagnosed in 2010, just a few months after he had very sadly lost his older brother to the same disease. Stephen said: “My diagnosis was very sudden and was one of those days you never forget. Having had to leave work early with a severe headache and a stabbing pain in my right eye, my wife insisted that we go straight to hospital after what my brother had experienced.
Having seen its income drop by more than 25% last year due to the pandemic and forced to pause its regular research grant funding programme, The Brain Tumour Charity has today launched an appeal to raise the £450,000 needed to open the trial as soon as possible.