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Antitumor Cannabinoid Chemotypes: Structural Insights

What is CBD- Cannabidiol

Cannabidiol, or CBD, is the second most prevalent active component in marijuana. We can directly extracted CBD from the Cannabis sativa L. hemp plant. Cannabis sativa L.is a unique but versatile plant and a significant herbaceous species native to Central Asia. It is traditional medicine and as a source of textile fabric since ancient times. We can extract the active component i.e., CBD (cannabidiol) and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) from the hemp plant Cannabis sativa L. for therapeutic purposes. CBD (cannabidiol) is a non-intoxicating chemical component of marijuana that may help with conditions like chemotherapy-induced nausea and anorexia, as well as symptomatic alleviation of multiple sclerosis. According to the World Health Organization’s report, “CBD has no effects in humans that suggest it could be abused or addictive… There has been no indication of public health issues linked to the usage of pure CBD to yet.”

Health Benefits of CBD (Cannabidiol)

The most important health benefits of CBD are as follows:

  • Relieves pain throughout the body by targeting receptors to specific body parts.
  • Reducing inflammation by connecting receptors to the immune system.
  • Improves sleep quality
  • Reduces anxiety and depression
  • Alleviate some pain from rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis.
  • Helps in reducing acne 
  • Relieves symptoms and side effects of cancer treatments in chemotherapy such as pain, nausea and vomiting.
  • Lowers high blood pressure
  • Reduces seizures for childhood epilepsy syndromes
  • Improves appetite and digestion
  • Improves mood, learning capabilities and memory power
  • Helps in bone remodelling and growth

Cannabinoids as anti-tumour agents

As we get into the deeper aspects of CBD, let’s get an idea of a new medical term which is important in the CBD studies,

ECS – The Endocannabinoid system is a biological system composed of endocannabinoids. Endocannabinoids are endogenous lipid-based retrograde neurotransmitters that connect to cannabinoid receptors CB1R and CB2R, and throughout the central nervous system have cannabinoid receptor proteins distributed throughout it and peripheral nervous system of vertebrates.

Cannabinoids are well-known for their ability to relieve symptoms brought on by cancer therapy. Furthermore, evidence gathered over the last fifteen years suggests that these cannabinoids can prevent tumour growth in cancer animal models. Cannabinoids might promote autophagy-driven (cell breakdown) cancer cell death by activating an ER stress (endoplasmic reticulum stress, which happens when proteins do not properly fold) linked pathway. Cannabinoids also reduce cancer cell migration and hinder tumour angiogenesis (the formation of new tumour cells). So, in recent years scientists all over the world have started to explore the tolerance to cannabis anticancer effect and viable tactics for developing cannabinoid-based combinational medicines to fight cancer. 

Cannabinoids’ therapeutic potential to manage palliative effects in cancer patients has been the subject of extensive investigation for some years. Marinol® (dronabinol) and Cesamet® (nabilone), two cannabis-based medications approved by several regulatory drug bodies including the FDA, have their first target indication for cancer-induced emesis. Palliative applications of cannabis-based pharmaceuticals include the treatment of cancer-induced neuropathic pain too.

Other uses of cannabinoids

Aside from these therapeutic uses, certain cannabinoids may have anti-cancer potential. Some cannabinoids can modulate many cellular signalling pathways involved in cancer cell proliferation, migration, and death, as reported in recent decades. Even though we don’t completely understand the underlying mechanisms, there’s evidence that shows the involvement of four mechanisms. These mechanisms are direct inhibition of transformed-cell development by suppression of mitogenic signal, induction of apoptosis, prevention of tumour angiogenesis, and metastasis. The signalling pathways involved in endocannabinoid system activation may alter depending on the malignancy or experimental model, making the process more difficult to comprehend.

CB1R and CB2R are two cannabinoid receptors (CBR) that mediate the physiological processes activated by most of these cannabinoids. CB1R is mostly present in the central nervous system, such as hippocampus, cerebellum, basal ganglia, cortical and olfactory areas. Although you can find it in numerous peripheral organs. CB2R is located mostly in the immune system, including the spleen, thymus, lymph nodes, and tonsils, but it is also present in immune cells. We can link different cancer types to CBR overexpression and increased endocannabinoid levels. This expression is required for downstream signalling in cancer cells, which has implications for cell viability.

The Future of CBD in cancer treatments

Cannabinoids and chemicals that modulate the endocannabinoid system could broaden the range of chemotherapeutic drugs available for cancer treatment. In fact, the discovery of the endocannabinoid system in the next years could lead to the development of more effective and safer chemicals. Furthermore, we can use data from tumour next-generation sequencing to find effective cannabis formulations and cancers with specific characteristics. These novel methods may lead to the discovery of cannabis therapy-related biomarkers in tumour samples. Or, in the best-case scenario, large amounts of resistance factors generated by cancer cells.


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