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Cannabis-Derived Substances in Cancer Therapy - An Emerging Anti-Inflammatory Role for the Cannabinoids

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Cannabinoids, the active components of the cannabis plant, have some clinical merit both as an anti-emetic and appetite stimulant in cachexic patients. Recently, interest in developing cannabinoids as therapies has increased following reports that they possess anti-tumour properties. Research into cannabinoids as anti-cancer agents is in its infancy, and has mainly focussed on the pro-apoptotic effects of this class of agent. Impressive anti-cancer activities have been reported; actions that are mediated in large part by disruptions to ubiquitous signalling pathways such as ERK and PI3-K. However, recent developments have highlighted a putative role for cannabinoids as anti-inflammatory agents. Chronic inflammation has been associated with neoplasia for sometime, and as a consequence, reducing inflammation as a way of impacting cancer presents a new role for these compounds.

This article reviews the ever-changing relationship between cannabinoids and cancer, and updates our understanding of this class of agent. Furthermore, the relationship between chronic inflammation and cancer, and how cannabinoids can impact this relationship will be described.

Keywords: AEA; AKT; BAX/BIM; CBR1; CBR2; CBRs; Cancer Therapy; Cannabinoids; Cannabis; Carcinogenesis; Ceramide Messaging System; Crohn's disease; Helicobacter pylori; IFN-α; Inflammation; JNK signalling; MDM2; PI3-K pathways; PI3-K/AKT; anandamide; apoptosis; c-JUN Kinase (JNK) Pathway; cannabis plant; cytarabine; diphosphatidylglycerol; doxorubicin; immune modulation; inflammation; inositol triphosphate signalling pathways; mTOR; neoplasia; oxaliplatin; prima facie; rheostat; rheumatoid arthritis; tetrahydrocannabinol; vascularisation; vincristine

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: November 1, 2010

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  • Current Clinical Pharmacology publishes frontier reviews on all the latest advances in clinical pharmacology. The journal's aim is to publish the highest quality review articles in the field. Topics covered include: pharmacokinetics; therapeutic trials; adverse drug reactions; drug interactions; drug metabolism; pharmacoepidemiology; and drug development. The journal is essential reading for all researchers in clinical pharmacology.
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