Cannabinoids and Cancer
Natalya M. Kogan
Affiliation: Hebrew University, Pharmacy School, Department of Medicinal Chemistry and Natural Products, Israel.
Keywords: cannabinoid, endocannabinoid, mechanisms, cancer, angiogenesis
Marijuana has been used in medicine for millennia, but it was not until 1964 that Δ9- tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9-THC), its major psychoactive component, was isolated in pure form and its structure was elucidated. Shortly thereafter it was synthesized and became readily available. However, it took another decade until the first report on its antineoplastic activity appeared. In 1975, Munson discovered that cannabinoids suppress Lewis lung carcinoma cell growth. The mechanism of this action was shown to be inhibition of DNA synthesis. Antiproliferative action on some other cancer cells was also found. In spite of the promising results from these early studies, further investigations in this area were not reported until a few years ago, when almost simultaneously two groups initiated research on the antiproliferative effects of cannabinoids on cancer cells: Di Marzos group found that cannabinoids inhibit breast cancer cell proliferation, and Guzmans group found that cannabinoids inhibit the growth of C6 glioma cell. Other groups also started work in this field, and today, a wide array of cancer cell lines that are affected is known, and some mechanisms involved have been elucidated.
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