Targeting the Endocannabinoid System for the Treatment of Cancer – A Practical View
Christopher J. Fowler, Sofia B. Gustafsson, Sui Chu Chung, Emma Persson, Stig O.P. Jacobsson and Anders Bergh
Affiliation: School Department of Pharmacology and Clinical Neuroscience, Umeå University, SE901 87 Umeå , Sweden.
Keywords: Cannabinoid, anandamide, 2-arachidonoylglycerol, fatty acid amide hydrolase, monoacylglycerol lipase, cancer, glioma, prostate cancer
In recent years, considerable interest has been generated by findings that cannabinoids not only have useful palliative effects, but also can affect the viability and invasivity of a variety of different cancer cells. In the present review, the potential of targeting the cannabinoid system for the treatment of cancer is considered from a practical, rather than a mechanistic viewpoint, addressing questions such as whether human tumour cells express CB receptors; whether the potencies of action of cannabinoids in vitro match the potencies expected on the basis of receptor theory; what is known about the in vivo effects of cannabinoids and cancer, and how relevant the experiments undertaken are to the clinical situation; and finally, what approaches can be taken to minimise unwanted effects of cannabinoid treatment. It is concluded that cannabinoids (or agents modulating the endogenous cannabinoid system) are an attractive target for drug development in the cancer area, but that more in vivo studies, particularly those investigating the potential of cannabinoids as an addition to current treatment strategies, are needed.
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