Cancer charities and the National Health Service (NHS) in Britain have launched a study to investigate if Sativex, an oral cannabis spray, is effective as a treatment for glioblastoma (brain cancer). Glioblastoma is the most common form of brain cancer and almost always reoccurs even after conventional cancer treatments. Doctors participating in the clinical trial will give patients Sativex, alongside a chemotherapy medication – temozolomide.
The study will be the first of its kind in the world, and will endeavor to find out whether Sativex, teamed with temozolomide, can help to kill glioblastoma cancer cells and extend and improve patient quality of life. Sativex contains equal ratios of the two major cannabinoids present in cannabis: Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) which is psychoactive, and cannabidiol (CBD), which can help reduce pain, inflammation and anxiety without inducing intoxicating effects.
According to Susan Short, the principal investigator of the study and a professor of clinical oncology and neuro-oncology at Leeds University, Sativex may help kill glioblastoma tumor cells and enhance the effects of chemotherapy by stopping the growth and spread of tumors, enabling patients to live longer.
The trial will be funded by the Brain Tumor Charity and coordinated by Cancer Research UK’s clinical trials unit at Birmingham University. The recruitment of 232 participants across the UK will begin early next year. Two-thirds of the patients will receive Sativex with temozolomide, while the other third will receive temozolomide and a placebo drug.
Participants in the trial will be followed for three years, with data gathered regarding patient outcomes, including their survival following the treatment. The clinical trial has been based on an earlier study that suggested Sativex could prolong life expectancy for patients with glioblastoma. In the earlier study, patients who had received Sativex were alive a year later than those who had received the placebo.