*Immunotherapy eliminates tumours in mice
*Blocking vitamin B-2 stops growth in humans
A mother-of-two claims she has cured her aggressive breast cancer by taking one drop of cannabis oil every day.Dee Mani, 44, refused chemotherapy when she was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer ‚Äď deemed the deadliest form ‚Äď and instead opted to try CBD.
Cannabidiol, or CBD, is one of more than 80 cannabinoids, natural compounds found in the marijuana plant.Doctors gave her the all-clear just five months after she opted for the oil, which is derived from cannabis but doesn‚Äôt cause a high.Despite her claims that it has cured her of cancer, there is no proof cannabis, or any of its compounds, can treat cancer in humans as research showing the drug‚Äôs anti-tumour effects have been in petri dishes and on mice.
According to the report published by DailyMailUK Online, the legal status of cannabis oil in the United Kingdom (UK) has confused thousands, with most oils being sold as food supplements because suppliers have yet to obtain licences to sell it as a medicine under strict Government rules.Ms Mani, from Birmingham, found a lump in her breast in March 2017 and soon after was diagnosed with breast cancer.
Doctors offered her chemotherapy, but she refused after it failed to keep her sister alive. After researching alternative treatments online, she stumbled across cannabis oil and its reported benefits.She then found a local supplier which cost her ¬£22 a month and started taking the ‚Äėrevolting‚Äô cannabis oil once every evening.
Ms Mani, who now lives in Cape Verde, claims that by August she was given the all-clear by doctors. She also changed her diet and started meditation.Speaking for the first time, she said: ‚ÄúBecause of what happened to my sister, there was no way I was having chemo or radiotherapy.
‚ÄúAt first when I spoke to the doctor I agreed to everything I was told, I said I‚Äôd have one year worth of chemotherapy but then I did my research.‚ÄúAfter finding out about cannabis oil I started to put one drop into a capsule every night and take it before bed.‚ÄúWithin four months I believe that I cured myself and then when I was given the all clear, I knew it was the cannabis that cured me.‚ÄĚ
Ms Dani is still clear of cancer and continues to take the oil every night. She has written about her journey in a new book called ‚ÄėMy Way‚Äô.Charities estimate around 15 per cent of all cases of breast cancer are triple negative ‚Äď but death rates are proportionally higher. Ms Dani added: ‚ÄúEven though my cancer has gone I will take one capsule every night for the rest of my life.
‚ÄúAlongside curing my cancer, it‚Äôs helped me with my insomnia, my allergy to dust and the pain in my back from having slipped discs.‚ÄĚCBD is extracted from the marijuana/cannabis plant as a mineral-rich oil, it is usually bottled with a dropper ‚Äď but also comes in the form of chewing gum, soap or as a vape oil for e-cigarettes.
It has no side effects, either, and is not addictive.It has been reported to help people with epilepsy, rheumatism, migraines, psoriasis, acne, multiple sclerosis and depression.Crucially, cannabidiol oil does not contain any THC, the psychoactive component of cannabis. In other words, CBD does not get you high.
CBD, which reportedly has no side effects, influences the release and uptake of ‚Äėfeel good‚Äô chemicals such as dopamine and serotonin.The compound has been credited with helping to relieve pain and stiffness, as well as aiding conditions such as anxiety.
CBD comes in many forms, the most popular being an oil ‚Äď which users spray under their tongue ‚Äď or gel tablets which melt slowly in the mouth.Neither form contains THC ‚Äď which causes the ‚Äėhigh‚Äô in cannabis.
Also, injecting minute amounts of two immune-stimulating agents directly into solid tumors in mice can eliminate all traces of cancer in the animals, including distant, untreated metastases, according to a study by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine, United States (U.S.).The approach works for many different types of cancers, including those that arise spontaneously, the study found.
The researchers believe the local application of very small amounts of the agents could serve as a rapid and relatively inexpensive cancer therapy that is unlikely to cause the adverse side effects often seen with bodywide immune stimulation.The study titled ‚ÄúEradication of spontaneous malignancy by local immunotherapy‚ÄĚ was published in Science Translational Medicine.
‚ÄúWhen we use these two agents together, we see the elimination of tumors all over the body,‚ÄĚ said Ronald Levy, MD, professor of oncology. ‚ÄúThis approach bypasses the need to identify tumor-specific immune targets and doesn‚Äôt require wholesale activation of the immune system or customization of a patient‚Äôs immune cells.‚ÄĚ
One agent is currently already approved for use in humans; the other has been tested for human use in several unrelated clinical trials. A clinical trial was launched in January to test the effect of the treatment in patients with lymphoma.Levy, who holds the Robert K. and Helen K. Summy Professorship in the School of Medicine, is the senior author of the study, which was published January 31 in Science Translational Medicine. Instructor of medicine Idit Sagiv-Barfi, PhD, is the lead author.
Levy is a pioneer in the field of cancer immunotherapy, in which researchers try to harness the immune system to combat cancer. Research in his laboratory led to the development of rituximab, one of the first monoclonal antibodies approved for use as an anticancer treatment in humans.Some immunotherapy approaches rely on stimulating the immune system throughout the body. Others target naturally occurring checkpoints that limit the anti-cancer activity of immune cells. Still others, like the CAR T-cell therapy recently approved to treat some types of leukemia and lymphomas, require a patient‚Äôs immune cells to be removed from the body and genetically engineered to attack the tumor cells. Many of these approaches have been successful, but they each have downsides ‚ÄĒ from difficult-to-handle side effects to high-cost and lengthy preparation or treatment times.
Also, new research published in the journal Aging finds a compound that stops cancer cells from spreading by starving them of vitamin B-2. The findings may revolutionize traditional chemotherapy.Current chemotherapy has a wide range of serious side effects, but that may be about to change, suggests new research.
A team of British-based researchers set out to find a non-toxic therapeutic agent that targets the mitochondria of cancer cells.Mitochondria are energy-producing organelles found inside each cell. The compound recently found by the scientists can stop cancer stem-like cells from proliferating by interfering with their energy-creating process inside the mitochondria.
The team was led by Prof. Michael Lisanti, the chair of translational medicine at the University of Salford in the United Kingdom, and the new study can be accessed here.
Meanwhile, Levy said: ‚ÄúAll of these immunotherapy advances are changing medical practice. Our approach uses a one-time application of very small amounts of two agents to stimulate the immune cells only within the tumor itself. In the mice, we saw amazing, bodywide effects, including the elimination of tumors all over the animal.‚ÄĚ
Cancers often exist in a strange kind of limbo with regard to the immune system. Immune cells like T cells recognize the abnormal proteins often present on cancer cells and infiltrate to attack the tumor. However, as the tumor grows, it often devises ways to suppress the activity of the T cells.Levy‚Äôs method works to reactivate the cancer-specific T cells by injecting microgram amounts of two agents directly into the tumor site. (A microgram is one-millionth of a gram). One, a short stretch of DNA called a CpG oligonucleotide, works with other nearby immune cells to amplify the expression of an activating receptor called OX40 on the surface of the T cells. The other, an antibody that binds to OX40, activates the T cells to lead the charge against the cancer cells. Because the two agents are injected directly into the tumor, only T cells that have infiltrated it are activated. In effect, these T cells are ‚Äúprescreened‚ÄĚ by the body to recognize only cancer-specific proteins.
Some of these tumor-specific, activated T cells then leave the original tumor to find and destroy other identical tumors throughout the body.The approach worked startlingly well in laboratory mice with transplanted mouse lymphoma tumors in two sites on their bodies. Injecting one tumor site with the two agents caused the regression not just of the treated tumor, but also of the second, untreated tumor. In this way, 87 of 90 mice were cured of the cancer. Although the cancer recurred in three of the mice, the tumors again regressed after a second treatment. The researchers saw similar results in mice bearing breast, colon and melanoma tumors.
Mice genetically engineered to spontaneously develop breast cancers in all 10 of their mammary pads also responded to the treatment. Treating the first tumor that arose often prevented the occurrence of future tumors and significantly increased the animals‚Äô life span, the researchers found.
Finally, Sagiv-Barfi explored the specificity of the T cells by transplanting two types of tumors into the mice. She transplanted the same lymphoma cancer cells in two locations, and she transplanted a colon cancer cell line in a third location. Treatment of one of the lymphoma sites caused the regression of both lymphoma tumors but did not affect the growth of the colon cancer cells.
‚ÄúThis is a very targeted approach,‚ÄĚ Levy said. ‚ÄúOnly the tumor that shares the protein targets displayed by the treated site is affected. We‚Äôre attacking specific targets without having to identify exactly what proteins the T cells are recognizing.‚ÄĚ
The current clinical trial is expected to recruit about 15 patients with low-grade lymphoma. If successful, Levy believes the treatment could be useful for many tumor types. He envisions a future in which clinicians inject the two agents into solid tumors in humans prior to surgical removal of the cancer as a way to prevent recurrence due to unidentified metastases or lingering cancer cells, or even to head off the development of future tumors that arise due to genetic mutations like BRCA1 and 2.
‚ÄúI don‚Äôt think there‚Äôs a limit to the type of tumor we could potentially treat, as long as it has been infiltrated by the immune system,‚ÄĚ Levy said.The work is an example of Stanford Medicine‚Äôs focus on precision health, the goal of which is to anticipate and prevent disease in the healthy and precisely diagnose and treat disease in the ill.
Meanwhile, Lisanti and his colleagues used drug-screening to identify the compound, which is called diphenyleneiodonium chloride (DPI).As the researchers explain, various cell assays and other cell culture experiments revealed that DPI reduced over 90 percent of the energy produced in the cells‚Äô mitochondria.DPI achieved this by blocking vitamin B-2 ‚ÄĒ also known as riboflavin ‚ÄĒ which depleted the cells of energy.Lisanti said: ‚ÄúOur observation is that DPI is selectively attacking the cancer stem cells, by effectively creating a vitamin deficiency [‚Ä¶]. In other words, by turning off energy production in cancer stem cells, we are creating a process of hibernation.‚ÄĚ
The cancer stem cells are the ones that produce the tumor. ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs extraordinary,‚ÄĚ continued Lisanti, ‚Äúthe cells just sit there as if in a state of suspended animation.‚ÄĚ Importantly, DPI proved to be non-toxic for so-called ‚Äúbulk‚ÄĚ cancer cells, which are largely thought to be non-tumorigenic.This suggests that the compound might be successful where current chemotherapy fails. The team explains, ‚ÄúDPI treatment can be used to acutely confer a mitochondrial-deficient phenotype, which we show effectively depletes [cancer stem-like cells] from the heterogeneous cancer cell population.‚ÄĚ‚ÄúThese findings have significant therapeutic implications for potently targeting [cancer stem-like cells] while minimizing toxic side effects,‚ÄĚ they add.
A new era of chemotherapy?
‚Äú[W]e believe,‚ÄĚ say the scientists, ‚Äúthat DPI is one of the most potent and highly selective [cancer stem-like cells] inhibitors discovered to date.‚ÄĚThe findings are particularly significant given the dire need for non-toxic cancer therapies and the serious side effects of conventional chemotherapy.‚ÄúThe beauty of [DPI] is that [it] makes the cancer stem cells metabolically inflexible so [that] they will be highly susceptible to many other drugs,‚ÄĚ explains Lisanti.
Study co-author Prof. Federica Sotgia also comments on the significance of the recent findings, saying, ‚ÄúIn terms of chemotherapies for cancer, we clearly need something better than what we have at present, and this is hopefully the beginning of an alternative approach to halting cancer stem cells.‚ÄĚIn fact, the authors specialize in finding alternative, non-toxic therapies, and they hope that their most recent findings will mark the beginning of a new era of chemotherapy ‚ÄĒ perhaps one that uses non-toxic molecules to target the mitochondrial activity of cancer stem-like cells. The researchers propose to call these new molecules ‚Äúmitoflavoscins.‚ÄĚ