A chemical component of the marijuana plant, cannabidiol, may prevent the onset of pain associated with drugs used in chemotherapy, particularly in breast cancer patients, according to researchers at Temple University’s School of Pharmacy.
The researchers published their findings, “Cannabidiol Prevents the Development of Cold and Mechanical Allodynia in Paclitaxel-Treated Female C57Bl6 Mice,” in the journal Anesthesia and Analgesia.
Animal models were developed by the researchers who tested ability of the compound (that is the second-most abundant chemical found in the marijuana plant) for relieving hemo-induced neuropathic pain, said Sara Jane Ward, research assistant professor of pharmaceutical sciences in Temple’s School of Pharmacy and the study’s lead author.
“We found that cannabidiol completely prevented the onset of the neuropathic, or nerve pain caused by the chemo drug Paclitaxel, which is used to treat breast cancer,” said Ward, who is also a research associate professor in Temple’s Center for Substance Abuse Research.
One of cannabidiol’s major benefits is that it does not produce psycho-active effects such as euphoria, increased appetite or cognitive deficits, said Ward. “Cannabidiol has the therapeutic qualities of marijuana but not the side effects,” she said.
The research of Ward has long focused on brain systems that are impacted by marijuana and whether those systems may be targeted in the treatment of various disorders. “Marijuana binds to the cannabinoid receptors in the body and researchers have long been interested in whether there is therapeutic potential for targeting this receptor system,” she said.
Ward also said cannabidiol has also demonstrated the ability for reducing tumor activity in animal models that may make it an effective therapeutic for breast cancer, especially if you “combined it with a chemo agent like Paclitaxel, which we already know works well.”
There are about 10 clinical trials underway according to Ward in the United States for cannabidiol on a range of different disorders, including cannabis dependence, eating disorders and schizophrenia. Because of this, Ward believes that it would be easier to establish a clinical trial for cannabidiol as a therapeutic against neuropathic pain associated with chemo drugs.