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(Medical Xpress)—Chemicals similar to those found in cannabis form the basis of a new drug that is being trialled in UK cancer patients for the first time.
The trial – funded by Newcastle University spin-out company e-Therapeutics plc, who also manufacture the drug – will investigate its potential for treating patients with a variety of solid tumours.
The drug, called dexanabinol, is from a family of compounds called cannabinoids. It is chemically related to compounds found in cannabis plants, but is synthesised in the lab and lacks any cannabis-like psychological effects.
Professor Ruth Plummer from Newcastle University, who is leading the trial, said: "The starting point for this trial was to map networks of proteins that appear to have a role in cancer, identify points at which these networks could be disrupted, and then see if there were existing drugs to target these points.
"It was this novel approach - known as network pharmacology - that first highlighted the potential cancer-fighting properties of dexanabinol, which was originally developed to treat patients with severe head injuries. While this certainly illustrates that there may be compounds with real therapeutic potential related to those found in cannabis, it also points to the importance of applying rigorous scientific methods when selecting molecules that might have potential as cancer treatments.[read more at link]