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Cannabinoids 2006;1(2):15-17 (10 December 2006)

Mini-review

Cannabinoids: potential antitumoral agents?

Manuel Guzmán

Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology I, School of Biology, Complutense University, 28040 Madrid, Spain, mgp@bbm1.ucm.es

Cannabinoids, the active components of Cannabis sativa L., act in the body by mimicking endo-genous substances - the endocannabinoids - that activate specific cell surface receptors. Cannabi-noids exert palliative effects in cancer patients. For example, they inhibit chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, stimulate appetite and inhibit pain. In addition, cannabinoids inhibit tumor growth in laboratory animals. They do so by modulating key cell signaling pathways, thereby in-ducing antitumoral actions such as the apoptotic death of tumor cells as well as the inhibition of tumor angiogenesis. Of interest, cannabinoids seem to be selective antitumoral compounds as they can kill tumor cells without significantly affecting the viability of their non-transformed counter-parts. On the basis of these preclinical findings a pilot clinical study of ƒ´9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in patients with recurrent glioblastoma multiforme has recently been run. The fair safety profile of THC, together with its possible growth-inhibiting action on tumor cells, may set the ba-sis for future trials aimed at evaluating the potential antitumoral activity of cannabinoids.

Keywords
cannabinoid, receptor, tumor, cancer, apoptosis, angiogenesis, experimental therapeutics, clinical trial.Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology I, School of Biology, Complutense University, 28040 Madrid, Spain, mgp@bbm1.ucm.es

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