UK to Study Using Cannabis-Based Medicine to Treat Brain Tumors

The United Kingdom National Health Service and Brain Tumour Charity are partnering on research to determine whether cannabis-based medicine Sativex paired with chemotherapy medication temozolomide can treat glioblastoma.

Full story after the jump.

The United Kingdom (U.K.) National Health Service (NHS) and Brain Tumour Charity are partnering on research to determine whether cannabis-based medicine Sativex paired with chemotherapy medication temozolomide can treat glioblastoma, a recurrent brain tumor, the Guardian reports. Once underway, it will be the first such study of its kind in the world.

Sativex is one of three cannabis-based medicines used in the NHS. It is currently given to patients with multiple sclerosis whose condition has not improved despite treatment.

Susan Short, a professor of clinical oncology and neuro-oncology at Leeds University and the lead investigator of the study, said the cannabis drug “may kill glioblastoma tumor cells and that it may be particularly effective when given with temozolomide chemotherapy.”

“So it may enhance the effects of chemotherapy treatment in stopping these tumors growing, allowing patients to live longer. That is what we want to test in the study.”Short to the Guardian

The Brain Tumour Charity is funding the clinical trial and will recruit 232 patients early next year from at least 15 hospitals, including specialist cancer centers, across the U.K. Two-thirds of study participants will receive Sativex and temozolomide while the remaining will be given the chemotherapy drug and a placebo.

The trial follows an earlier phase one trial involving 27 patients that investigated the safety of giving Sativex and temozolomide together.

Dr. David Jenkinson, the Brain Tumour Charity’s interim chief executive, called those early-stage findings “really promising.”

“We hope this trial could pave the way for a long-awaited new lifeline that could help offer glioblastoma patients precious extra months to live and make memories with their loved ones,” he told the Guardian.

Participants in that phase one trial that were given Sativex were still alive a year later than those who had a placebo.

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