Will the Next Big Brain Cancer Drug be Derived from Marijuana?

Will the Next Big Brain Cancer Drug be Derived from Marijuana?

GW Pharmaceuticals is close to venturing where no other pharmaceutical company has gone before.

The U.K.-based company is poised to win the first-ever U.S. approval for a cannabis-derived therapy. Early trials of the therapy suggest that this treatment could also effectively fight one of the most brutal types of brain cancer: glioblastoma multiforme.

marijuana-brain-cancer-drugPreliminary data was unveiled earlier this week, which the company is in the midst of. Their experimental drug combo utilizes both cannabidiol and THC – the ‘high’ element of cannabis. Results are promising, with brain cancer patients who used the drug experiencing a better median survival rate by about six months. Glioblastoma multiforme is typically savage against the brain, leaving 70% of patients dead within two years of diagnosis.

“We believe that the signals of efficacy demonstrated in this study further reinforce the potential role of cannabinoids in the field of oncology, and provide GW with the prospect of a new and distinct cannabinoid product candidate in the treatment of glioma,” GW CEO Justin Gover said in a statement. Gover also noted that the cannabidiol-based therapies also show potential in treating behavioural disorders like schizophrenia.

Related: Will Shoppers Drug Mart sell medical marijuana?

Having said all that, marijuana’s effect on cancer is still unsettled. A massive review by American scientists does claim the drug is potent in treating pain and nausea in cancer patients – but doesn’t necessarily equate to treating (or causing) cancer.

But, GW’s drug is more than a bowl of weed or joint to smoke – it employs concentrated derivatives, and is being diligently tested, which could provide more insights to cannabis study that’s been limited by U.S. policy.

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