New Study Uncovers the Mechanism of Melanoma Cell Death by Cannabis Extract


A recent in-vitro study conducted by researchers from Charles Darwin University (CDU) and RMIT has shed light on the mechanism by which a cannabis extract can slow down the growth of melanoma cells and increase cell death rates. The study focused on a specific cannabis extract called cannabinoid PHEC-66, derived from the cannabis sativa plant.

Dr. Ava Bachari, who conducted the study as part of her Ph.D. project at RMIT, discovered that the extract binds to receptor sites on melanoma cells and controls their growth at two crucial phases. This ultimately leads to an increase in cell damage and triggers programmed cell death, also known as apoptosis. The findings were published in the journal Cells.

Dr. Nazim Nassar, a pharmaceutical lecturer at CDU and co-author of the study, explained that the damage caused to the melanoma cells prevents them from dividing and instead initiates a self-destruct process. This research is considered crucial in understanding the potential of cannabis extracts as anticancer agents and refining treatment techniques to be more specific and effective.

The next challenge identified by Dr. Nassar is the development of a targeted delivery system for the melanoma cells, in preparation for pre-clinical trials. Advanced delivery systems need to be fully developed to ensure the appropriate and effective use of these cannabis extracts at target sites.

Dr. Nassar, who specializes in cancer cell biology, pharmacology, drug delivery systems, and drug disposition and dynamics, has co-authored several papers on the use of cannabinoids in melanoma treatment. He believes that continued research into the application of cannabis extracts could revolutionize cancer treatment.

While cannabis extracts are still stigmatized when it comes to treating various health conditions, they are already being used clinically for anxiety, cancer-related symptoms, epilepsy, and chronic pain. The intensive research on their potential to kill melanoma cells is just the beginning, as scientists aim to investigate how this knowledge can be applied to other types of cancers.

Professor Nitin Mantri, the lead author of the study and a biotechnologist at RMIT, highlighted the importance of long-term follow-up studies to ensure the sustained effectiveness and safety of the PHEC-66 extract in cancer treatment over extended periods. He also emphasized the need for testing the safety profile of the extract before it can be widely adopted.

The next stage of the research will involve animal studies or pre-clinical trials to further validate and explore the efficacy of the cannabinoid PHEC-66 in treating melanoma and other types of cancers. Professor Mantri also stressed the critical collaboration with Dr. Nassar and the necessity of support and sponsorship from pharmaceutical companies to qualify PHEC-66 as a registered medicine.

1.      Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
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