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CBD-like substance could enhance cancer treatment and reduce pain

The substance was shown to prevent neuropathic pain caused by chemotherapy and be beneficial against cancer



CBD-like substance could enhance cancer treatment by reducing pain

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

A synthetic CBD-like substance could enhance chemotherapy by reducing neuropathic pain, according to new research.

In a study conducted by researchers in Brazil, a synthetic substance which is similar in function to CBD, was shown to prevent the neuropathic pain typically induced by chemotherapy drugs 

It was also shown to be beneficial against cancer, according to the team at the University of São Paulo.

Neuropathy is a relatively common adverse effect of chemotherapy drugs and can lead to the interruption of clinical cancer treatment.

This particular study involved paclitaxel, a widely used chemotherapy drug available to patients with various types of cancer via Brazil’s national health system. 

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The animal study showed that administration of the cannabidiol-like substance, in combination with the chemotherapy drug, improved cancer treatment with no adverse effects and did not cause dependence.

Cannabidiol (CBD) is a natural chemical found in the cannabis plant. 

The cannabidiol analog, known as PECS-101, has a similar structure to cannabidiol but with the addition of fluoride, which according to the scientists makes it three to 10 times more powerful than cannabidiol. 

It was synthesised by Raphael Mechoulam, Professor of Medicinal Chemistry and leading cannabis researcher at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Israel, who partnered with the Brazilian research group to carry out research on the substance.

The researchers first showed that paclitaxel induced neuropathic pain in an animal model, before studying the action mechanism of PECS-101 to make sure no pain occurred.

The study also showed that PECS-101, like cannabidiol, does not cause dependence.

Nicole Rodrigues da Silva, a researcher in the Department of Pharmacology at FMRP-USP and first author of the article, commented: “We observed that the drug’s action mechanism occurs via a cellular receptor called PPARy, and not via the endogenous cannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2. Previous research had already shown that drugs that interact with PPARy have anti-tumor and anti-neuropathy effects.”

They were then able to demonstrate that PECS-101 also helped the chemotherapy, or at least did not hinder it. 

Silva continued: “To do this, we performed another experiment, this time involving female mice with induced breast cancer, and found that PECS-101 not only didn’t interfere with the effect of paclitaxel but also appeared to improve the cancer treatment. We confirmed this experiment by obtaining the same positive result in cultured human cells.”

According to Francisco Silveira Guimarães, a professor at FMRP-USP and co-author of the article, reports of the potential anti-cancer effects of cannabidiol can be found in the scientific literature. 

He added: “It wasn’t a complete surprise to find that PECS-101 also has this property.

“The most positive finding is that it prevents neuropathic pain. In other words, pain doesn’t even happen. In addition, it enhances the treatment. This undoubtedly justifies the hope that chemotherapy with paclitaxel can become more effective.”


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Sarah Sinclair is a respected cannabis journalist writing on subjects related to science, medicine, research, health and wellness. She is managing editor of Cannabis Health, the UK’s leading title covering medical cannabis and CBD, and sister titles, Cannabis Wealth and Psychedelic Health. Sarah has an NCTJ journalism qualification and an MA in Journalism from the University of Sunderland. Sarah has over six years experience working on newspapers, magazines and digital-first titles, the last two of which have been in the cannabis sector. She has also completed training through the Medical Cannabis Clinicians Society securing a certificate in Medical Cannabis Explained. She is a member of PLEA’s (Patient-Led Engagement for Access) advisory board, has hosted several webinars on cannabis and women's health and has moderated at industry events such as Cannabis Europa. Sarah Sinclair is the editor of Cannabis Health. Got a story? Email / Follow us on Twitter: @CannabisHNews / Instagram: @cannabishealthmag


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