Urged on by intelligent, proactive parents who were buying cannabidiol (CBD) online to give to their children with brain tumors, British scientists are now investigating whether, or how, CBD can be used to shrink brain tumors in children—a fact the parents have already confirmed.
“Increasingly families are using CBD, often at great expense,” said the project’s lead researcher, Professor Richard Grundy. “Presently, there is no evidence that it might be of benefit or even what dose to use or how often.”
The study will be carried out at the University of Nottingham’s Children’s Brain Tumor Research Center.
Brain tumors are the biggest cancer killer of children in the United Kingdom, but the disease receives less than one percent of the UK’s cancer research funding.
“It is therefore very important to obtain objective scientific evidence of whether CBD is active against children’s brain tumor cell lines,” said Grundy.
In the study, thought to be the first of its kind in the world, researchers will grow cells from different brain tumors in lab conditions, some with the addition of CBD molecules and others without.
They will then compare how the presence of tumor cells differs in both samples through a technique called cell staining, which will help them see how many of the cells are dividing and whether any are dying.
“We expect the cells—brain tumor and normal brain—grown in our standard conditions to be healthy and actively dividing. We expect that normal brain cells grown in cannabidiol will remain healthy. However, we expect the brain tumor cells grown in cannabidiol to stop growing and die,” Grundy told the Guardian.
Katie Sheen, of the Astro Brain Tumor Fund, which is co-funding the study, said if it proves to be successful, CBD could be a gentler, less toxic way of treating cancer than chemotherapy or radiotherapy.
The research comes at just the right moment for children with brain tumors.
The father of one four-year-old child was told in mid-2016 that nothing more could be done for his son William, so he began to search for alternatives.
“The two options we started were a low carbohydrate diet and cannabidiol,” said William’s father Steve, according to University of Nottingham’s website. “Six months later, William’s tumor had shrunk by two-thirds. He is slowly improving and attending school part time.”
“Because we know how unpredictable his tumor type can be we couldn’t just sit back and hope,” he added.
Amen to hope and fearless parents.
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