TWO scientists at California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco have found that a compound derived from marijuana could stop metastasis in many kinds of aggressive cancer, potentially altering the fatality of the disease forever.
"It took us about 20 years of research to figure this out, but we are very excited," said Pierre Desprez, one of the scientists behind the discovery. The finding, which has already undergone laboratory and animal testing, is awaiting permission for clinical trials in humans.
Desprez, a molecular biologist, spent decades studying ID-1, the gene that causes cancer to spread. Fellow researcher Sean McAllister was studying the effects of Cannabidiol, or CBD, a non-toxic, non-psychoactive chemical compound found in the cannabis plant. The pair collaborated, combining CBD and cells containing high levels of ID-1 in a petri dish.
What they found was that his Cannabidiol could essentially 'turn off' the ID-1.The cells stopped spreading and returned to normal.
"We likely would not have found this on our own. That's why collaboration is so essential to scientific discovery."
Desprez and McAllister's findings was first published in 2007. Since then, their team has found that CBD works both in the lab and in animals.
"We started by researching breast cancer. But now we've found that Cannabidiol works with many kinds of aggressive cancers-brain, prostate-any kind in which these high levels of ID-1 are present.
No toxicity has been found in the animals tested, and Cannabidiol is already used in humans for a variety of other ailments. The compound is used to relieve anxiety and nausea, and, since it is non-psychoactive, does not cause the "high" associated with THC.