Is cannabidiol (CBD) beneficial for treating brain tumors in children? That’s the question British researchers from Nottingham University’s Children’s Brain Tumor Research Centre are hoping to find out in their upcoming study.
The preclinical studies that have already been done on CBD and tumors have had promising results. CBD is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid that has shown to inhibit the progression and reduce the viability of cancerous cells.
The researchers, headed by Professor Richard Grundy, are going to specifically look at ependymoma and glioma tumors. In a laboratory, CBD will be administered to some of the tumors for seven days. The scientists will then use cell staining to compare whether there’s a difference in the viability and spreading behavior between the treated and untreated cells.
“We expect the cells – brain tumor and normal brain – grown in our standard conditions to be healthy and actively dividing. We expect that normal brain cells grown in cannabidiol will remain healthy. However, we expect the brain tumor cells grown in cannabidiol to stop growing and die,” said Grundy.
Cancerous tumors are currently treated through a combination of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. The side effects of such treatment, which often include nausea, fatigue, appetite loss and pain, can be debilitating. If CBD shows to be effective, it could become a less toxic strategy for addressing tumors in children.
“New ways to treat childhood brain tumors are urgently needed to extend and improve the quality of life in malignant brain tumor patients, so we are excited at the prospect of testing the effect of cannabidiol on brain tumor cells,” said Grundy.
The Nottingham Centre is in the midst of fundraising for its study, and through generous donations has already raised the £55,000 of the £100,000 it needs for the project. Supporting the study are the parents of four-year-old William Frost, who is currently being treated at the Centre for a brain tumor. Traditional treatments were ineffective for William, but he has experienced significant progress since incorporating CBD into his treatment regimen.
“We are proud to be supporting this important new avenue of research into children’s brain tumors. We were told halfway through 2016 that nothing more could be done for William,” said William’s father, Steve Frost. “We couldn’t bear to accept the news and decided to look into alternative treatments. We started William on a low-carbohydrate (ketogenic) diet and cannabidiol. Six months later William’s tumor had shrunk by two-thirds. He is slowly improving and attending school part-time.”
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