Glioblastoma is a very aggressive brain cancer and the most common type of malignant brain tumor among adults. As they tend to grow very quickly, glioblastomas can be very difficult to treat. Surgery is commonly necessary and is followed by radiation therapy and chemotherapy. Even then, prognoses are often grim. Following diagnosis, patient survival is, on average, only 16 months. Consequently, researchers are looking into drug therapies that better target glioblastomas and a team in Slovenia led by Dr. Tamara T. Lah have found that the phytocannabinoid cannabigerol (CBG) could potentially do just that.
Several studies have focused on the cannabinoids cannabinodiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) to treat various types of cancers, and researchers have found that cannabinoids can induce cancer cell apoptosis via several routes, most notably the cannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2), where THC is an agonist. As CBG is also a CB1 and CB2 agonist and has shown promise for its ability to reduce cell proliferation of several varieties of cancer cells (particularly colon cancer), it stands to reason that the same mechanisms could make it a therapy for cancers where CB1 and CB2 receptors are highly expressed, as is the case with glioblastomas. If both produce the same beneficial effect, the team reasoned, this eliminates the need for THC, which can produce unwanted side effects associated with acute intoxication.
Dr. Lah and her colleagues investigated the effects of CBG, CBD, and THC on glioblastoma cells and glioblastoma stem cells and found that all three cannabinoids reduce the viability of both lines with a similar level of potency. As the team hypothesized, the use of CBG and a combination of CBG and CBD reduced cell viability and induced apoptosis at a level similar to that of formulations containing THC. The team concluded that cannabinoid formulations for the treatment of glioblastoma can omit THC, thereby avoiding patient discomfort caused by its psychotropic effects.
Read the full study here.