Cannabis Extract Shows Promising Results Against Melanoma: A Study by Charles Darwin University

A groundbreaking study conducted by researchers from Charles Darwin University (CDU) and the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) has revealed that a specific extract from the Cannabis sativa plant, known as PHEC-66, can have a “deadly” effect on melanoma cells.

The Study
The research team investigated the programmed cell death caused by PHEC-66 on three melanoma cell lines: MM418-C1, MM329, and MM96L. The results were promising: the cannabis extract showed positive results in slowing down melanoma cell growth and increasing cell death rates.

CDU’s Dr. Nazim Nassar, a practicing pharmacist and pharmacologist specializing in cancer cell biology, pharmacology, drug delivery systems, and drug disposition and dynamics, explained the process. The extract binds to receptor sites on particular melanoma cells, then controls the growth of cells at two pivotal phases and increases the amount of damage to the cells. 

The Impact
This damage effectively manipulates the cell into killing itself, a process known as apoptosis. “The damage to the melanoma cell prevents it from dividing into new cells, and instead begins a programmed cell death, also known as apoptosis,” Dr. Nassar said.

This is a significant area of research because understanding cannabis extracts, especially their potential to function as anticancer agents, could refine treatment techniques to be more specific, responsive, and effective.

Future Directions
The next challenge for the team is developing a targeted delivery system to the melanoma cells to prepare it for pre-clinical trials. “Advanced delivery systems still need to be fully developed, underscoring the importance of ongoing efforts to ensure the proper and effective use of these agents at target sites,” Dr. Nassar said.

While the use of cannabis extracts to treat a variety of health conditions is stigmatized, future research into its application could revolutionize cancer treatment. “Clinical uses of cannabis extracts include treatment for anxiety, cancer-related symptoms, epilepsy, and chronic pain. Intensive research into its potential for killing melanoma cells is only the start as we investigate how this knowledge can be applied to treating different types of cancers,” Dr. Nassar added.

The study offers a glimmer of hope for those diagnosed with one of the deadliest forms of skin cancer. As the research progresses, the potential of cannabis extracts in the fight against cancer continues to unfold. The findings of this study underscore the importance of continued research into the medicinal properties of cannabis and its potential applications in healthcare.