Harvard Scientists Say Chemical in Cannabis (Marijuana) May Have Major Impact on Pancreatic Cancer

Researchers at Harvard University’s Dana-Farber Cancer Institute say that a cannabis chemical could have a “major impact’ on the treatment of pancreatic cancer. While pancreatic cancer represents only three percent of all cancers in the United States, its one-year survival rate is just 20 percent, and the five-year survival rate is less than eight percent. This type of cancer is predicted to be the second-leading cause of deaths related to cancer by 2020.

Now, researchers at Harvard can offer some hope as they released the results of a study on July 23, 2019, indicating that a chemical in cannabis shows “significant therapy potential” in treating pancreatic cancer. The therapeutic drug, called FBL-03G, is a derivative of a cannabis “flavonoid,” a naturally-occurring chemical compound that is found in plants, vegetables, and fruits that provide their vibrant colors. Cannabis flavonoids were discovered by Marylyn Barret, a researcher based in London, in 1986. They were found to have anti-inflammatory benefits.

Scientists had long believed that cannabis flavonoids had therapeutic promise, but as they only comprise 0.14 percent of the plant. researchers had to have access to fields and fields of the plant in order to extract quantities large enough to test. This situation changed when a method to genetically engineer cannabis flavonoids was discovered.

The Dana-Farber researchers decided to test one of the flavonoids – the FBL-03 – on one of the deadliest cancers known. The result of their laboratory experiment was “major,” according to Wilfred Ngwa, Ph.D., an assistant professor at Harvard and one of the researchers. The most significant conclusion, he added, is that the targeted delivery of cannabis flavonoids to a tumor killed both local and metastatic tumor cells, which significantly increases the survival rate for pancreatic cancer.

This is the first study to show the potential new treatment for pancreatic cancer. In addition to killing the tumor cells, researchers also found that FBL-03G can attack other cancer cells. Scientists were “quite surprised” to find that the drug could inhibit the growth of cancer cells in other parts of the body that were not targeted by the treatment. This suggests that there is involvement of the immune system, a mechanism that the researchers are currently investigating.

Information and Photo Source: Yahoo , 123rf