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Cannabis and ovarian cancer stem cells

Cancer stem cells (CSCs) are a biochemically distinct subtype of cancer cells that seem to be particularly important in tumor growth and metastasis. Thus, therapies that kill CSCs, or prevent them from exhibiting "stemness" (the characteristics that make them tumorigenic) could be particularly important, potentially curing the disease or delaying recurrence indefinitely. You can read more about CSCs at this Wikipedia article.

No research has yet been done on cannabis and ovarian CSCs. In a review paper just published in the journal Cancers, Hinanit Koltai and Nurit Shalev (the science leads in the ovarian cancer and cannabis project) first summarize the literature on the biochemical pathways and states associated with ovarian cancer stem cells (as well as CSCs for many other cancers). They then review preclinical studies that have looked at the effects of cannabinoids on these pathways in other cancers. The result is a rich collection of modes of action by which cannabis might kill or inhibit ovarian cancer stem cells:

Some of the genetic pathways and mechanisms affected by phytocannabinoids: THC and CBCA (a) and CBD (b) that are associated with ovarian cancer stem cell state. Receptors are illustrated in cases where receptor involvement in activity was suggested. ABC, ATP-binding cassette transporter; ALDH, aldehyde dehydrogenase; BCL-2, the activity of B-cell lymphoma-2; CB1, cannabinoid receptor type 1; CB2, cannabinoid receptor type 2; CBCA, cannabichromenic acid; CBD, cannabidiol; CD, clusters of differentiation; cyt c, cytochrome c; ECM, extracellular matrix; ER stress, endoplasmic reticulum stress; FZD, Wnt frizzled receptor; HH-GLI, Hedgehog-GLI; ID1, an inhibitor of DNA binding; THC, Δ9-trans-tetrahydrocannabinol; TRPV2, transient receptor potential cation channel subfamily V member 2. Reproduced from Koltai & Shalev (2022).

This points to exciting new research directions as we try to elucidate the therapeutic potential of cannabis for ovarian cancer!

Here are the details on the paper and a link to read more:

Koltai, H.; Shalev, N. Anti-Cancer Activity of Cannabis sativa Phytocannabinoids: Molecular Mechanisms and Potential in the Fight against Ovarian Cancer and Stem Cells. Cancers 2022, 14, 4299.

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