Medical marijuana has proven to be a great benefit for people suffering from debilitating conditions and chronic illnesses. However, GW Pharmaceuticals has been cooking up what may be the first cannabis-based therapy. It could also be an effective way to treat a severely destructive form of brain cancer, according to Tuesday reports.
The U.K.-based company announced the drug, which contains cannabidiol and marijuana’s psychoactive ingredient THC, had successfully expanded the survival rates of patients suffering from glioblastoma multiforme, a type of brain cancer that usually results in death not long after a diagnosis. The drug study was still mid-stage, but representatives from GW said patients given the drug had extended survival rates about six months longer compared to those who were given a placebo.
“We believe that the signals of efficacy demonstrated in this study further reinforce the potential role of cannabinoids in the field of oncology and provide GW with the prospect of a new and distinct cannabinoid product candidate in the treatment of glioma," GW CEO Justin Gover said in a statement.
More than 700,000 people in the U.S. were living with a tumor that affects the brain and central nervous system, according to the American Brain Tumor Association. About 15 percent of those people suffer from glioblastoma. About 70 percent of patients die from the disease within two years of being diagnosed.
Following the results of the preliminary trial, GW said it had reasons to expand research on cannabis’ effects within cancer patients.
Marijuana was still considered to be a federally illegal substance, so research on the plant's benefits has been limited. However, a recent, separate study by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine also found pot to be helpful for people suffering from various forms of cancer, especially in regards to the plant's ability to curb nausea in chemotherapy patients. The report, which analyzed more than 10,000 individual studies on cannabis, also found that weed improved muscle function for people suffering from multiple sclerosis. Cannabis and cannabinoids also can help improve sleep for people suffering from chronic pain and sleeping disorders.