Scientists at Harvard University recently discovered that a molecule can revolutionize cancer treatment
At the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute at Harvard University, researchers have been able to uncover a particularly promising cannabis molecule. In their survey, they indicate that one of the cannabis molecules named "flavonoids" would be effective in treating pancreatic cancer. Knowing that the survival rate against this cancer is only 20%, this discovery raises great hopes.
Flavonoids are found in many plants, fruits and vegetables. However, as part of the cancer treatment, its form FBL-03G, is derived solely from cannabis.
"In this study, a flavonoid derivative of cannabis demonstrates a significant therapeutic potential in the treatment of pancreatic cancer," says Michele Moreau.
This discovery would drastically increase the survival rate, which is currently 8% at five years. If pancreatic cancer affects only 3% of all cancer patients in the US, it will be the second leading cause of cancer deaths by 2020.
"The most significant finding is that the administration of cannabis-derived flavonoids, targeted at tumors, has allowed the local and metastatic destruction of tumor cells, significantly increasing survival of pancreatic cancer." says Professor Wilfred Nwga.
However, the flavonoid compound only accounts for about 0,14% of the cannabis plant. In order to extract enough to provide treatment, drug manufacturers will have to cultivate cannabis fields, which is not yet won.
In order to solve this problem, scientists are trying to genetically modify the cannabis plant to produce more flavonoids. Success is not yet at the rendezvous, because the plant can not be manipulated so easily.
"The problem with these molecules is that they are present in cannabis at levels so low that it is not possible to try to make the cannabis plant to create more of these substances." Says Steven Rothstein, researcher and Genetics at the University of Guelph and co-authored a study on the use of flavinoids as analgesics.
The most important finding is that the administration of flavinoids not only kills pancreatic cancer, but also cancer cells present throughout the body. This could mean that this molecule could be used to treat other forms of cancer.
"We were very surprised that the drug could inhibit the growth of cancer cells in other parts of the body, representing metastases, which were not targeted by treatment. This suggests that the immune system is also involved, and we are currently studying this mechanism, "adds Wilfred Nwga.
In the past, scientists have successfully developed cancer treatments from cannabis compounds. The main components of the plant, THC and CBD, have been shown to be effective in the treatment of lung cancer, blood, skin and liver, among others. However, because of the financial stakes these molecules remain stuck at the experimental level and are kept in the illegality.
The benefits of cannabis compounds are increasingly validated by scientists. We will probably see in the future diseases such as cancer being treated not with harmful synthetic drugs, but with compounds found in plants.