London, July 31 (IANS) A naturally occurring constituent of medicinal cannabis along with chemotherapy could increase the survival rate by three times among mice with pancreatic cancer, according to a new study.
According to the researchers, the cannabinoid named Cannabidiol (CBD) does not cause psychoactive effects and has been already cleared for use at the clinics.
“This is a remarkable result. We found that mice with pancreatic cancer survived nearly three times longer if a constituent of medicinal cannabis was added to their chemotherapy treatment,” said lead author Marco Falasca from Queen Mary University of London in Britain.
“Cannabidiol is already approved for use in clinics, which means we can quickly go on to test this in human clinical trials. If we can reproduce these effects in humans, cannabidiol could be in use in cancer clinics almost immediately, compared to having to wait for authorities to approve a new drug,” he added.
For the study, published in the journal Oncogene, the team tested the impact of the cannabidiol on the use of the commonly used chemotherapy medication Gemcitabine as a treatment for pancreatic cancer in mice.
“Given the five-year survival rate for people with pancreatic cancer is less than seven per cent, the discovery of new treatments and therapeutic strategies is urgently needed,” Falasca noted.
The team explained that CBD is also known to improve the side effects of chemotherapy, including nausea, diarrhoea, vomiting, meaning it could also improve the quality of life of patients undergoing chemotherapy.
While the current study only looked at the effect of CBD in mice, clinical trials in humans are needed to confirm whether or not CBD improves survival rates of pancreatic cancer patients, the researchers said.