(WT) — Scientists from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute at Harvard University recently discovered something that could change cancer treatment forever.
In their study, Harvard researchers learned that a compound in the cannabis plant called “flavonoids” can be used in the treatment of pancreatic cancer, one of the deadliest forms of cancer with a survival rate of only 20 percent within one year.
Flavonoids are a common compound found in most plants, fruits, and vegetables, but the drug used to treat cancer, called FBL-03G, is specifically synthesized from the cannabis plant.
“In this study, a flavonoid derivative of cannabis demonstrates significant therapy potential in the treatment of pancreatic cancer.” – Michele Moreau, et al.
This discovery could provide much-needed hope and relief to patients with an illness that has only an 8-percent five-year survival rate. Although pancreatic cancer only affects 3 percent of all cancer patients in America, it is on track to become the second leading cause of cancer-related death in America by as early as 2020.
“The most significant conclusion is that tumor-targeted delivery of flavonoids, derived from cannabis, enabled both local and metastatic tumor cell kill, significantly increasing survival from pancreatic cancer. – Wilfred Nwga, PhD, study researcher
However, the flavonoid compound only makes up about 0.14 percent of the cannabis plant. In order to extract enough to use as treatment, drug manufacturers would need to grow fields of cannabis, something they are not likely to do.
To get around this, scientists are making a controversial move by learning how to genetically engineer the cannabis plantto produce more flavonoids. They are having trouble however, as genetic engineering still cannot yield enough cannflavins at this time.
“The problem with these molecules is they are present in cannabis at such low levels, it’s not feasible to try to engineer the cannabis plant to create more of these substances.” – Steven Rothstein, Molecular and Genetic Researcher at the University of Guelph, and co-author of a study on the use of cannflavins as painkillers
Perhaps the most exciting discovery is that the introduction of flavonoids not only kills cancer in the pancreas, but in cancer cells found throughout the body. This could mean that cannflavins may be used to treat other forms of cancer in the future.
“We were quite surprised that the drug could inhibit the growth of cancer cells in other parts of the body, representing metastasis, that were not targeted by the treatment. This suggests that the immune system is involved as well, and we are currently investigating this mechanism.” – Wilfred, Nwga
Scientists have found success in treating cancer with cannabis compounds in the past. The main components of the plant, THC and CBD, have been found beneficial in the treatment of lung, blood skin, and liver cancer, among others, but until recently have been kept illegal by big money interests like the alcohol and prison industries, which benefit from the illegality of these highly medicinal compounds.
Many anecdotal cases also exist of patients who believe that cannabis cured their cancer, including Cheryl Pearson who recovered from stage 4 Ovarian cancer after having an allergic reaction to her chemotherapy drugs and was told that her death was “imminent.” Three months after her supposed end of life date, she was officially in remission, she believes, thanks to cannabis oil.
“I guess I never would have believed it—the results I saw from this plant… Initially I only thought you could smoke it and I was not going that route. I didn’t have the knowledge. I was just thinking it was a puff of smoke and if I have cancer, I’m not going to add to it.” – Cheryl Pearson
As cannabis becomes more mainstream and scientists discover its medical benefits, we are likely to see a future where debilitating diseases like cancer can be treated not with harmful, synthetic drugs, but with compounds found in plants used for thousands of years – bringing that ancient wisdom into modern, everyday medical life.
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