Cannabinoids may suppress tumor invasion in highly invasive cancers, according to a study published online December 25 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.
Cannabinoids, the active components in marijuana, are used to reduce the side effects of cancer treatment, such as pain, weight loss, and vomiting, but there is increasing evidence that they may also inhibit tumor cell growth. However, the cellular mechanisms behind this are unknown.
Robert Ramer, Ph.D., and Burkhard Hinz, Ph.D., of the University of Rostock in Germany investigated whether and by what mechanism cannabinoids inhibit tumor cell invasion.
Cannabinoids did suppress tumor cell invasion and stimulated the expression of TIMP-1, an inhibitor of a group of enzymes that are involved in tumor cell invasion.
“To our knowledge, this is the first report of TIMP-1-dependent anti-invasive effects of cannabinoids. This signaling pathway may play an important role in the antimetastatic action of cannabinoids, whose potential therapeutic benefit in the treatment of highly invasive cancers should be addressed in clinical trials,” the authors write.
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