Could cannabinoids be the answer to aggressive brain cancer?
Health & Biotech
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Special Report: New research from MGC Pharma might hold the key to treating glioblastoma, an extremely aggressive type of brain cancer for which there is no cure.
A full report on pre-clinical research, conducted by MGC Pharma (ASX:MXC) in collaboration with the National Institute of Biology and University Medical Centre Ljubljana, has shown that certain cannabinoid formulations can inhibit tumour growth as well as cause cancer cell death.
Glioblastoma is the most aggressive brain cancer for which the survival rate is very low — fewer than 5 per cent of patients survive longer than five years. Most commonly, it is treated with surgery followed by chemotherapy and radiation, with temozolomide, the only FDA-approved drug for newly-diagnosed patients, the most common medication.
However, many patients do not respond to temozolomide.
“Many glioblastomas produce a protein (called MGMT) which can limit the effects of temozolomide,” as NHMRC senior research fellow Stuart Pitson at the University of South Australia explained at The Conversation.
But there could be hope, according to Professor Tamara Lah Turnšek of the National Institute of Biology, thanks to the cannabinoid formulations that are the intellectual property of MGC Pharma.
“Evidence has demonstrated that cannabinoids inhibit growth in invasiveness of tumour cells and continues to be solidified, based on cellular experiments in vitro and in animal studies,” she said.
“The modern treatment modalities, surgical removal, irradiation and chemotherapy can be supported or even replaced by adjuvant treatment strategies, including cannabinoids.”
The formulations were shown to have the ability to target glioblastoma stem cells that are considered to be the roots of the disease and the critical target in oncology therapy.
Development has also taken place on a diagnostic platform for glioblastoma patients that is able to predict the response of a tumour to selective multi cannabinoid compound formulations, meaning that a targeted treatment plan can be efficiently implemented — and would allow doctors to assess whether a patient will respond prior to treatment.
Roby Zomer, co-founder and managing director of MGC Pharma, described the research as a major breakthrough for treatment of the disease.
“We are now creating a cannabinoid compound matrix which we can utilise to target a wider range of cancers and significantly advance our R&D capabilities,” he said.
“We will continue on this path to broaden our cannabinoid cancer research programs, which will have material implications for future trials targeting cancer treatments and maintaining our premier position within the cannabinoid focussed pharmaceutical sector.
“We continue to develop our seed to pharmacy strategy, creating pharmaceutical based formulations targeting medical conditions including cancers, epilepsy and dementia and we look forward to increasing our revenues as we increase sales and capitalise on our unique position in the market.”