Could Marijuana Potentially Become the Next 'Miracle Drug' for Treating Cancer?
Keith Speights - The Motley Fool
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February 19, 2017

New Weed Treatment Could Increase Lifespan of Brain Cancer Patients (Complex News)

There's insufficient to no evidence that marijuana is an effective treatment for cancer. That's what the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine said in a comprehensive report on the health effects of marijuana in January. But this report's conclusion might already be in question.

GW Pharmaceuticals recently announced encouraging results from a mid-stage clinical study of a cannabis-based drug combination in treating an aggressive type of brain cancer.

A combination of two chemicals derived from marijuana, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), was administered to 12 patients with recurrent glioblastoma multiforme (GBM). Another 9 patients were given placebo. All patients were also on temozolomide, a standard chemotherapy used for treating brain cancer. Results from the THC/CBD patient arm of the study were significantly better than the placebo group.

The study found that patients who were treated with the THC/CBD combo had an 83% survival rate at one year compared to a 53% survival rate for patients in the placebo cohort. Median survival for the patients taking the THC/CBD combo was over 550 days. Median survival for the placebo group was 369 days.

Researchers were also encouraged by the safety profile of the cannabinoid treatment. GW Pharmaceuticals' THC/CBD combo was generally well tolerated. The most common adverse events were vomiting, dizziness, nausea, headache, and constipation.

Glioblastoma multiforme is one of the most common types of brain tumors - and one of the most aggressive. Only 28.4% of patients on average survive one year after diagnosis, with 3.4% surviving to year five. The severity of the disease and lack of effective treatments has led to a flurry of activity by biopharmaceutical companies and cancer research organizations. Over 150 mid- and late-stage clinical trials targeting GBM are currently active.

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