CBD, promising against brain cancer (glioblastoma)


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  • Study shows that CBD isolate and extract can slow the growth and kill cancer cells, especially in glioblastoma-like brain cancers.


    Study shows that CBD isolate and extract can slow the growth and kill cancer cells, especially in glioblastoma-like brain cancers.

    The results of a new study examining human and canine brain cells suggest that cannabidiol may be a useful therapy for difficult-to-treat brain cancer. Cannabidiol, or CBD, is a non-psychoactive chemical compound derived from marijuana.

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    The study looked at glioblastoma, an often fatal form of brain cancer that grows and spreads very quickly. Even with major advances in treatment, survival rates for this cancer have not improved significantly.

    “More research and treatment options are urgently needed for patients with brain cancer,” said Chase Gross, a doctoral student in veterinary medicine. “Our work shows that CBD has the potential to provide an effective and synergistic treatment option against glioblastoma and that it should continue to be studied.”

    Study shows that CBD isolate and extract can slow the growth and kill cancer cells, especially in glioblastoma-like brain cancers.

    Study shows that CBD isolate and extract can slow the growth and kill cancer cells, especially in glioblastoma-like brain cancers.
    Researchers believe that the anti-cancer actions of CBD target the mitochondria, the energy-producing structures of the cell, causing mitochondria to malfunction and releasing harmful reactive oxygen species. Mitochondria (teal color) in a canine cancer cell line are shown after 48 hours of treatment with a non-lethal dose of CBD isolate (40x objective lens) – Credit: Chase Gross, Mando Ramirez, Jade Kurihara, Colorado State University

    The research team’s summary was published in the FASEB Journal. Dr. Gross and his colleagues looked at human and canine glioblastoma cells because the cancer has striking similarities between the two species. They tested the effects of CBD isolate, which contains 100% CBD, and CBD extract, which contains small amounts of other natural compounds such as cannabigerol and tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC.

    Slowed growth of cancer cells

    “Our experiments have shown that CBD slows the growth of cancer cells and is toxic to canine and human glioblastoma cell lines,” Mr. Gross said. “Importantly, the differences in anti-cancer effects between isolate and extract of CBD appear negligible.”

    The new work has 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 began to swell and break down. This was true for all cell lines studied.

    Study shows that CBD isolate and extract can slow the growth and kill cancer cells, especially in glioblastoma-like brain cancers.

    Study shows that CBD isolate and extract can slow the growth and kill cancer cells, especially in glioblastoma-like brain cancers.
    A brightfield microscopy image (10x) illustrating the swollen intracellular vesicles seen after 48 hours of treatment with a lethal dose of CBD (10x objective). Swollen vesicles were a hallmark of CBD-induced cell death in all cell lines studied – Credit: Chase Gross, Mando Ramirez, Colorado State University

    Researchers believe that the anti-cancer actions of CBD target the mitochondria, the energy-producing structures of the cell, causing mitochondria to malfunction and releasing harmful reactive oxygen species. Their experiments showed that cells treated with CBD showed significant decreases in mitochondrial activity.

    “CBD has been zealously studied in cells for its anti-cancer properties over the past decade,” Mr. Gross said. “Our study helps complete the in vitro puzzle, allowing us to move forward to study the effects of CBD on glioblastoma in a clinical setting using live animal models. This could lead to new treatments that would help both people and dogs with this very serious cancer.”

    Next, the researchers plan to switch cell cultures to animal models to test the effects of CBD on glioblastoma. If the animal studies go well, work could progress towards clinical trials in dogs treated for natural glioblastoma at Colorado State University Veterinary Teaching Hospital.

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