Cannabidiol Could Be Key To Extending Pancreatic Cancer Patient Life

Pancreatic cancer and cannabidiol
Image: Manu5, Scientific Animations, CC BY-SA 4.0

Australian and UK researchers have found mice with pancreatic cancer surviving far longer after being treated with cannabidiol along with a commonly used chemotherapy agent.

The pancreas is an organ that helps the body to digest food and maintain safe blood sugar levels According to Australia’s Cancer Council, pancreatic cancer is the tenth most common cancer in men and ninth most common cancer in women in Australia; however, it’s the fifth most common cause of cancer death overall.

It’s estimated that 3,364 new cases of pancreatic cancer will be diagnosed in Australia alone this year.

The prognosis for many patients isn’t good, with a five-year survival rate of just 5%. The life expectancy for pancreatic cancer patients has changed little in the last four decades.

With such gloomy survival rates, there’s been much research into extending patients’ lives – and part of the answer may lie in a non-intoxicating cannabinoid called cannabidiol (CBD), which is being extensively studied for its potential to treat or manage a wide variety of conditions.

In research led by Curtin University and Queen Mary University of London scientists, the results of testing of mice with a form of cancer very similar to that of pancreatic cancer in humans is quite astounding.

“.. KPC mice treated with a combination of the GPR55 antagonist Cannabidiol (CBD) and gemcitabine (GEM, one of the most used drugs to treat PDAC), survived nearly three times longer compared to mice treated with vehicle or GEM alone,” state the researchers.

PDAC stands for Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma.

If this success in mice is replicated in humans, a treatment could be available relatively rapidly.

“Cannabidiol is already approved for use in clinics, which means we can quickly go on to test this in human clinical trials,” said Curtin University’s Professor Marco Falasca. “If we can reproduce these effects in humans, Cannabidiol could be in use in cancer clinics almost immediately, compared to having to wait for authorities to approve a new drug.”

Professor Falasca is currently collaborating with Australia’s Zelda Therapeutics (ASX:ZLD) on developing treatments for fatal diseases including pancreatic cancer.

The researchers’ full paper has been published in the journal Oncogene.