New research from Penn State College of Medicine shows medical marijuana may stop the growth of colon cancer cells.
According to the National Cancer Institute, colorectal cancer is one of the most common cancers diagnosed in the U.S. With an estimated 140,250 newly diagnosed cases and 50,630 deaths in 2018.
While medical cannabis has largely been used in recent years for palliative care, the researchers said some previous studies suggested that certain cannabinoid compounds may have the potential to inhibit or prevent the growth of tumors.
The researchers looked at synthetic derivatives of the compounds found in medical marijuana and how they interacted with cancer cells in test tubes.
“Of the 370 compounds, it turns out that 10 were fairly effective against all colon cancer cell lines,” said Kent Vrana, chair of the Department of Pharmacology at Penn State College of Medicine.
Researchers will next look at making these compounds more potent and effective against cancer cells.
While this research was focused mainly on colon cancer cells, it could impact other cancer cells as well.
“We have a sense for what works there. We suspect it will work for other things,” said Vrana. “We’re actually trying it for neuroblastoma right now.”
The National Institutes of Health helped support the study, which took about a year and a half. Right now in Pennsylvania, there are about 20 qualifying conditions to become a medical marijuana patient, which include cancer, autism, epilepsy, and HIV.