Sativex to be Used in World’s First Brain Tumor Trial

Sativex will star in a new cannabis trial that looks at how THC and CBD can treat brain cancer.

Sativex, the cannabis oral spray, has been chosen to be used in an upcoming study in treating an aggressive type of cancer known as glioblastoma.

The Brain Tumour Charity, an organization that seeks to increase research to find cures for brain tumors, is asking to raise £450,000 to fund the Sativex trial, which will be led by Professor Susan Short of Leeds University. 

“We think that Sativex may kill glioblastoma tumour cells, and that it may be particularly effective when given with temozolomide chemotherapy,” she said. “…so it may enhance the effects of chemotherapy treatment in stopping these tumours growing, allowing patients to live longer. That is what we want to test in the study.” 

The study will include the recruitment of 232 patients in early 2022 chosen from approximately 15 different hospitals and cancer centers in the United Kingdom. To study Sativex’s effectiveness, researchers will administer two-thirds of the patients with Sativex, and the remaining one-third with a placebo.

Approved by the United Kingdom National Health Service (NHS) in 2009, Sativex contains both THC and CBD, and, using the entourage effect, has proven to be a potent medicine. It is already used for patients with multiple sclerosis. The medicine is known for its ability to reduce pain, inflammation and anxiety.

The Guardian states that an estimated 2,200 people are diagnosed with glioblastoma every year in the United Kingdom. It’s aggressive, difficult to treat successfully and almost always returns even if other treatments such as surgery, radiotherapy or chemotherapy are used. Usually, patients who are diagnosed do not live for more than 18 months. 

“We hope this trial could pave the way for a long-awaited, new lifeline that could help offer glioblastoma patients precious extra months to live and make memories with their loved ones,” said the Brain Tumour Chairty’s Interim Chief Executive David Jenkinson. “We know there is significant interest in our community about the potential activity of cannabinoids in treating glioblastomas, and we’re really excited that this world-first trial here in the UK could help to accelerate these answers.”

The father of Tom Daley, an Olympian in men’s synchronized, 10-meter platform diving who won a gold medal in Tokyo last week, died from a brain tumor. Daley made a recent video advertising the potential of this trial and what it could mean for those who are currently suffering, and their families. 

“We are reaching out to all you individual heroes and supporters to help fund this groundbreaking trial,” he said in the video. “When you donate, you’ll receive a link for your social media badge of honor. Join our community; spread the word and help us pave the way to beating brain tumours.”

Sativex as a Potential Savior

Glioblastoma is considered to be a common condition, one that is devastating for patients like Stephen Lee. He participated in an early phase of the trial that was conducted in 2015. 

“My diagnosis was very sudden and was one of those days you never forget. Having had to leave work early with a severe headache and a stabbing pain in my right eye, my wife insisted that we go straight to hospital after what my brother had experienced,” he told BBC News.

He doesn’t know whether or not he received Sativex or a placebo back then, but he’s eager to see how this trial pans out. “This new trial is so important, as it will give people hope that there could be life beyond a glioblastoma diagnosis, and that there are other treatments being trialed to support them to live their lives.”

Between now and August 10, donations for this trial will be matched by The Big Give. “If the outcome of this trial is positive, it could pave the way to a new treatment option that could give people with recurrent [glioblastoma] precious extra time with their loved ones,” The Brain Tumour Charity wrote on it’s website.

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