A team of researchers from the Biomolecular Chemistry Institute of the National Research Council (Cnr-Icb) reveals how a non-psychoactive component of Cannabis is able to affect the metabolism of prostate cancer, paving the way for the possible use of non-psychotropic cannabinoids as adjuvants for the treatment of prostate cancer. The study is published in Pharmacological Research
16 FEB –
A study conducted by a team of researchers of the Biomolecular Chemistry Institute of the National Research Council (Cnr-Icb), published in the magazine Pharmacological Research, reveals how a non-psychoactive component of Cannabis (CBD) is able to counteract the phase in which prostate cancer becomes refractory to hormonal therapy.
The research – coordinated by Alessia Ligresti first researcher of the Cnr-Icb of Pozzuoli in collaboration with Roberto Ronca, professor of the University of Bresci) – has, in fact, demonstrated the existence, in this phase of the disease, of metabolic and oncogenic vulnerabilities that can potentially be exploited therapeutically from treatments based on phytocannabinoids: in this case, the identified component is able to specifically target the metabolic plasticity of the carcinoma by modulating the bioenergetics of the mitochondria, the “power plant” of the cells.
“Cancer cells, especially those in an advanced stage, are capable of modifying their metabolism to support the increased demand for energy – explains Alessia Ligresti – this ability, also known as metabolic reprogramming, plays a key role both in the oncogenesis of prostate cancer, i.e. the process that leads to the transformation of normal cells into cancerous cells, and in the acquisition of drug resistance. However, the dynamics between metabolism and oncogenesis are not fully understood.”
Plant-derived cannabinoids have been used for many decades as palliative agents for cancer patients, but in recent years, several similar compounds and cannabinoid-based drugs have been the subject of intense research for their potential anticancer activity. “Our study – continues Ligresti – demonstrates how, in preclinical models, CBD (approved by the FDA and already prescribed to treat seizures associated with various forms of childhood epilepsy), when suitably combined with other non-psychoactive phytocannabinoids, is particularly effective in reduce the growth of hormone refractory prostate cancer by targeting the mitochondria. One of the key proteins regulating mitochondrial function, and which is responsible for both cellular metabolism and the cell death/survival signaling pathway, is VDAC1. By binding to VDAC1, CBD causes an acceleration of the metabolism of the tumor cell, triggering compensatory mechanisms that activate the so-called programmed death or apoptosis”.
The study sheds light on the importance of using these molecules in optimal combinations to fully exploit their therapeutic potential as anticancer agents. “The hope is that these results will facilitate future studies, including clinical trials, on the possible use of non-psychotropic cannabinoids as adjuvants for the treatment of prostate cancer,” concludes the researcher.
February 16, 2023
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