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The Role Of Cannabinoids As Anticancer Agents In Pediatric Oncology

Cannabinoids are a traditional medicine for their powerful biological and psychedelic characteristics throughout history in both modern and ancient societies. Although over 100 cannabinoids originate from the Cannabis sativa plant,  tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) are the most popular due to their natural abundance and potency. These chemicals work through the endocannabinoid system (ECS), which was first discovered in the study of THC’s psychotropic effects.

CBD– CBD or cannabinoids is a well-known chemical in the Cannabis Sativa L plant. It is not intoxicating, even though we technically consider it to be psychoactive. It affects the brain differently than THC. CBD derived from hemp is permitted on the federal level, but not in all states.

Cannabis is a flowering plant that contains around 500 different compounds. Hemp is a form of cannabis. 

THC- Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the most well-known of the cannabis plant’s cannabinoid chemicals. Its psychoactive components produce intoxication.

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. The central nervous system and peripheral nervous system of vertebrates have cannabinoid receptor proteins distributed throughout them.

Cannabinoids in Pediatric Oncology

There is a scarcity of clinical and preclinical research detailing the benefits and drawbacks of therapeutic cannabis in paediatric cancer. According to recent polls, just 30% of oncologists and paediatricians believe they have enough knowledge to make an informed decision about the administration of cannabinoids to a sick patient. While 85% believe they need more education about the safety and efficacy of cannabinoid therapy. Despite their lack of self-reported competence, 76 % of 1446 oncologists stated they would approve cannabinoids for medical use, according to research.

Furthermore, despite the lack of a thorough study on cannabinoids in paediatric oncology, many parents choose to provide cannabis to their sick children, according to studies. There is a distinct lack of knowledge about the safety and efficacy of CBD in paediatric oncology, and there are few guidelines that define or propose appropriate dosage. You should always consult an expert oncologist before administering CBD to children. Kindly get in touch with [email protected] for more information.

Effects of Cannabinoids in Pediatric cancer

Cannabinoids have anticancer characteristics in a variety of adult cancers as per research. It includes breast cancer, melanoma, pancreatic cancer, lymphoma, and brain tumours, among others. These include cancer research in a range of experimental models. Despite these findings indicating cannabis’ anticancer qualities in adult cancers, we have little knowledge regarding their impact on children’s tumours. 

A glimpse into clinical studies

Researchers have carried out the majority of paediatric cancer research in leukaemia models, particularly T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, a highly aggressive and chemotherapy-resistant malignancy that accounts for 15% of all cases in children. In vitro and in vivo studies have revealed that cannabis causes leukaemia cell death.

Overall, preclinical data suggest that cannabis may have anticancer activity paediatric malignancies, and also report the diverse mechanisms of action. These paediatric malignancies originate from a variety of cells, exist in a variety of tissue settings, and are often driven by tumour-specific driver mutations. The use of long-term cultured cell lines, which are frequently criticised for not accurately reflecting real cancer, is a downside of several these investigations. Cannabinoids’ effects on a variety of paediatric malignancies, including brain cancer, need further investigation. We know that cannabinoids have an anticancer impact in adult brain tumours. But we have to investigate their potential for treating children’s brain cancer. 

Risk of cannabinoid use in Children

Although adults can use cannabis for medical usage safely and they well-tolerate it, we cannot expect the same results in children and adolescents. During brain development, the ECS is extremely important. The ECS plays a vital role in modulating neural and cognitive function throughout life, not just during pregnancy and childhood. Exogenous THC use may therefore disturb normal ECS activities, which could affect a variety of brain functions. The majority of studies on cannabinoid effects in teenagers focus on groups of adolescents who self-report chronic smoked cannabis usage, with the amount of THC consumed rarely tested or reported. Short-term physiological effects from inhaling smoked cannabis include short-term memory loss. Given the complexities of the situation, you can expect the research on cannabis’s harm to be conflicting.

The bottom line on the role of cannabinoids in pediatric cancer treatment

There is a lack of comprehensive research addressing cannabis use in children’s cancer. So, the controversy over its safety and efficacy for its use in children remains. As cannabis becomes more and more legal, demand for its use in medicine for children with serious illnesses will grow. We need to understand its efficacy and safety. Preclinical evidence supports cannabinoids’ efficacy and safety in adult brain cancers, with some hints that they may work in tandem with certain chemotherapies. Although we need to prove this in a clinical setting. We need more research to determine whether cannabis has the potential to become a therapeutic agent for treating paediatric malignancies. Furthermore, we require carefully controlled long-term research to evaluate whether medical cannabis usage in children has detrimental neurodevelopmental implications and whether these exceed its anti-neoplastic potential.



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