The Brain Tumor Charity recently announced that it had received clearance to conduct a trial to evaluate the effectiveness of a marijuana-based drug in the treatment of recurrent glioblastoma. The general public supported a campaign to raise £400,000 ($532,000) for the charity, which would finance the three-year trial.
The research, which will be led by a University of Leeds expert, will examine whether incorporating the use of an oral spray called Sativex, which contains cannabinoids, in chemotherapy could prolong life for individuals who have been diagnosed with recurrent glioblastoma. This is in addition to evaluating whether the addition of the cannabinoid spray to chemotherapy will improve patient quality of life and/or delay the disease’s progression.
The average rate of survival after diagnosis for this aggressive type of brain cancer, even after patients undergo intensive treatment, is 12 to 18 months. Research has shown that this aggressive form of cancer is common, with figures showing that more than 2,000 individuals are diagnosed with this form of brain cancer annually in England.
The rate of growth of glioblastomas is also high in comparison to other cancers, with researchers finding that for untreated glioblastomas, the rate was 1.4% per day.
The trial plans to recruit 230 patients from 15 hospitals across the United Kingdom early in 2022. University of Leeds Professor Susan Short, who is the principal investigator on the study, stated that the treatment of glioblastomas was challenging. Short, who has majored in neuro-oncology and clinical oncology, explained that even with chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery, almost all of these brain tumors regrew in a year, noting that this meant that patients were left with few options.
Short highlighted the growing interest in cannabinoids and their use in various cancers, adding that these compounds had well-described effects in the brain. In addition, Short explained that research had shown that glioblastoma brain tumors had receptors to cannabinoids on their cell surface, citing lab studies which had demonstrated that cannabinoid-based drugs worked well when added to temozolomide chemotherapy and could slow tumor growth. The researchers added that they were excited to add to these previous findings and evaluate whether the drug could extend the lives of glioblastoma patients.
Brain Tumor Charity’s interim chief executive Dr. David Jenkinson asserted that researchers were excited to conduct this world-first trial in the United Kingdom. In addition to having Olympic champion Tom Daley back the trial, Leeds Hospital Charity donated £45,000 ($60,000) to the campaign.
This trial could add further credence to the existence of medicinal cannabis products manufactured by companies such as Simply Sonoma Inc.
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