There may be good news on the way for those who have been diagnosed with colon cancer. A research team at the Penn State College of Medicine recently completed a project that showed compounds found in cannabinoids could be used to treat colon cancer.
Colon cancer is one of the most common cancers in the United States. Last year alone, the disease caused more than 50,000 deaths. These statistics are provided by the National Cancer Institute, which conducts studies and research in the United States about the disease.
The researchers at Penn State were surprised when they discovered that ten of the compounds in their study could be found in cannabinoids. The cannabinoid compounds have been shown to stop tumor growth and development, and might possibly be used as a preventative measure in the future.
Current Compounds Have Been Ineffective
When cannabinoids are mentioned, most people generally think of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) or cannabidiol (CBD). These are the two compounds that are often associated with medicinal purposes, both as an anti-anxiety medication and as a kind of muscle relaxer. When it comes to cancer, however, these two compounds from cannabinoids have been much less effective at preventing tumors from forming and stopping cancer growth.
The ten compounds found by the Penn State researchers have been isolated out of cannabinoids for the first time, and it appears they will be far more effective in fighting cancer than THC or CBD have been to this point.
What’s Next for These Compounds?
Kent Vrana, Chair of Penn State’s pharmacology department and a lead researcher on this study, says that the isolation of these compounds could be crucial to cancer research. Now that they have been isolated, Vrana says the next step is to test them against cancer cells to see how effective they can be in the fight. Once that initial step is complete, the researchers think they can start to modify these compounds to make them increasingly effective at fighting cancer.
New Cancer Drugs are the Goal
Vrana also said that the endgame for the cancer research community in this project is the creation of new cancer drugs and vaccines. By isolating, testing, and modifying these compounds, Vrana believes that the compounds can then be turned into drugs that fight cancer better than ever before. Additionally, if some of the compounds are more effective at fighting particular types of cancer, then multiple drugs could be developed to combat different cancers. This could lead to more individualized treatment for patients and better patient outcomes.