Cancer charities and the National Health Service (NHS) in Britain have launched a study to investigate if Sativex, an oral cannabis spray, is effective as a treatment for glioblastoma (brain cancer). Glioblastoma is the most common form of brain cancer and almost always reoccurs even after conventional cancer treatments. Doctors participating in the clinical trial will give patients Sativex, alongside a chemotherapy medication – temozolomide.
The study will be the first of its kind in the world and will endeavour to find out whether Sativex, teamed with temozolomide, can help to kill glioblastoma cancer cells and extend and improve patient quality of life. Sativex contains equal ratios of the two major cannabinoids present in cannabis: Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) which is psychoactive, and cannabidiol (CBD), which can help reduce pain, inflammation and anxiety without inducing intoxicating effects.
According to Susan Short, the principal investigator of the study and a professor of clinical oncology and neuro-oncology at Leeds University, the spray may help kill glioblastoma tumour cells and enhance the effects of chemotherapy by stopping the growth and spread of tumours, enabling patients to live longer.
The trial will be funded by the Brain Tumor Charity and coordinated by Cancer Research UK’s clinical trials unit at Birmingham University. The recruitment of 232 participants across the UK will begin early next year. Two-thirds of the patients will receive the spray with temozolomide, while the other third will receive temozolomide and a placebo drug.
Participants in the trial will be followed for three years, with data gathered regarding patient outcomes, including their survival following the treatment. The clinical trial has been based on an earlier study that suggested Sativex could prolong life expectancy for patients with glioblastoma. In the earlier study, patients who had received Sativex were alive a year later than those who had received the placebo.
Charities are working on an experiment to determine whether a cannabis-based mouth spray can treat brain tumors while extending patients' lives.
Sativex, also known as temozolomide, is used in conjunction with chemotherapy treatment to kill cancer cells in patients with recurrent brain tumours called glioblastomas in a clinical trial across the UK.
In the world, this will be the first study of its kind.
There are currently no FDA-approved treatments for glioblastoma, however, doctors have tried surgery, radiotherapy, and chemotherapy with little success. The lifespan of those with recurrent glioblastoma is only 10 months compared to 12-18 months for those diagnosed.
This is the most common form of brain cancer in England, as about 2,200 people are diagnosed with it every year.
As a matter of fact, Sativex has already been prescribed to patients with multiple sclerosis, who are not improving despite treatment. That way, their spasticity is lessened. The NHS uses three cannabis-based medicines at present, along with a few other pharmaceutical companies.
The combination of Sativex and temozolomide chemotherapy may be particularly effective in killing glioblastoma tumour cells. Thus, it might contribute to prolonging the lives of patients treated with chemotherapy by stopping tumour growth, according to Susan Short, a professor of clinical oncology and neuro-oncology at Leeds University. The aim of the study is to test these ideas, that’s what she said.
Researchers at the Brain Tumour Charity, the charity funding the trial, plan to recruit 232 patients early next year at 15 hospitals across the country, including cancer centers. It is planned to give half of the patient group Sativex and temozolomide in addition to the chemotherapy drug and a placebo in the other third.
As you may have noticed, Sativex contains an equal amount of THC and CBD, the most active components of the cannabis plant. THC produces a "high"; CBD is a natural compound that can help relieve pain, inflammation, and anxiety without producing any psychoactive side effects.
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