(New Scientist.com – Shaoni Bhattacharya – 15 Aug 2004 – Journal reference: Cancer Research (vol 64, p 5617))
An active component of the street drug has previously been shown to improve brain tumours in rats. But now Manuel Guzmán at Complutense University, Spain, and colleagues have demonstrated how the cannabis extracts block a key chemical needed for tumours to sprout blood vessels – a process called angiogenesis.
And for the first time, the team has shown the cannabinoids impede this chemical in people with the most aggressive form of brain cancer – glioblastoma multiforme. …
The team tested the effects of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol in 30 mice. They found the marijuana extract inhibited the expression of several genes related to the production of a chemical called vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF).
VEGF is critical for angiogenesis, which allows tumours to grow a network of blood vessels to supply their growth. The cannabinoid significantly lowered the activity of VEGF in the mice and two human brain cancer patients, the study showed.
The drug did this by increasing the activity of a fat molecule called ceramide, suggests the study, as adding a ceramide inhibitor stifled the ability of the cannabinoid to block VEGF.