Pancreatic cancer is an aggressive cancer that carries a poor prognosis. According to the American Cancer Society, the 5-year survival rate for patients diagnosed with pancreatic cancer is 9%. More research into treatment options is urgently needed. Investigations are underway to explore if medical cannabis fights pancreatic cancer.
I have seen many patients diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in my practice, and have witnessed how devastating it can be. Most people come to see me hoping that medical cannabis will not only help their symptoms, but maybe offer some hope for curing their disease too. I like to share that glimmer of hope with my clients. I tell them that the reality is we simply do not know the answer yet. However, there are some signs that signal reasons for hope.
For example, according to a study published last summer, a naturally occurring plant chemical (phytonutrient) found in marijuana is showing promise in the treatment of pancreatic cancer.
What’s really interesting is that this compound is not a cannabinoid, like CBD, THC, CBG and CBN.
It’s actually produced from a flavonoid found in the marijuana plant.
What’s a Flavonoid?
Flavonoids are the largest group of phytonutrients (plant-based nutrients). As a result, they are found in many parts of the plant and play many different roles. Flavonoids occur in almost all fruits and vegetables, and are responsible for giving them their bright colors. Some examples of foods known to be high in flavonoids are blueberries, apples, oranges, cabbage, black and green tea, and red wine.
Given the many ways this nutrient group supports health and wellness, it’s therefore no surprise that it has been used historically in Ayurvedic and Chinese Medicine.
Some of the health benefits of flavonoids include:
- Anti-Oxidant: reducing free-radical damage
- Anti-Inflammatory: blocking messaging molecules that promote inflammation
- Cardiovascular Protection: strengthening blood vessels, decreased platelet clumping
- Nervous System Protection: protecting cells in the brain and nerves throughout the body, slowing degenerative disease, improving brain function
- Cancer Protection: decreasing risk of cancer through anti-carcinogenic and anti-mutagenic properties
Cannaflavins are flavonoids only found in cannabis.
Therefore, they are the focus of some research on the therapeutic uses of medical cannabis.
Cannabis flavonoid shows promise in treating pancreatic cancer
Recently, Caflenone, also known as FBL-03G, was granted “Orphan drug status” by the United States Food and Drug Administration.
Caflenone, comes from a flavonoid found in a rare strain of Cannabis Sativa that grows naturally in Jamaica. The strain is notable for its particularly high content of flavonoids compared to others.
The FDA’s decision comes on the heels of a research study published in Frontiers in Oncology that demonstrated the therapeutic efficacy of Caflenone (FBL-03G) and its significant potential in the treatment of pancreatic cancer. Researchers from Dana Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School tested the drug on animal models. Their results showed that Caflenone had a significant effect on tumor progression, including metastases, and increased the survival rates of the animals treated with the drug.
Clinical trials to test the drug on humans with pancreatic cancer are expected to begin over the next few months.
The drug is manufactured by Flavocure Biotech, Inc., a company that is working to create cannabis-derived molecules with targeted action against rare forms of cancer. Caflenone is just one of the drugs in their portfolio that shows promise in the fight against pancreatic cancer, and possibly Glioblastoma (a very aggressive form of brain cancer).
The next step to determine if cannabis fights pancreatic cancer, is to try these drugs on people. Now that the FDA has granted Caflenone Orphan drug status, that is possible, offering a glimmer of hope in the treatment of these type of cancer.