Confessions of a Quackbuster

This blog deals with healthcare consumer protection, and is therefore about quackery, healthfraud, chiropractic, and other forms of so-Called "Alternative" Medicine (sCAM).

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Health Scan: A chemical in hashish inhibits cancer

Jun. 19, 2005

Health Scan: A chemical in hashish inhibits cancer
Judy Siegel-Itzkovich,

Hashish not only gets people high; it can bring cancer low. Derivatives of the cannabis plant from which hashish is produced have been shown by a Hebrew University doctoral student to be effective in halting the growth of tumors in laboratory and animal tests. For her work, Natalya Kogan was one of the winners of a Kaye Innovation Award, presented during the recent 68th meeting of the HU board of governors.

Working under the supervision of Prof. Raphael Mechoulam at the Hebrew University School of Pharmacy (in collaboration with Prof. Michael Schlesinger at The Hebrew University-Hadassah Medical School and Prof. Ester Priel at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev), Kogan has developed new compounds – known as quinonoid cannabinoids – that parallel in their activity a group of anti-cancer drugs, the best known of which is daunomycin. But while daunomycin is toxic to the heart, Kogan, with Dr. Ronen Beeri and Dr. Gergana Marincheva of Hadassah University Medical Center in Jerusalem's Ein Kerem, found that the quinonoid cannabinoids are much less cardiotoxic. The development of quinonoid compounds that display anticancer activity but are less toxic is a major therapeutic goal. Kogan is now continuing to investigate the mechanism of action of these promising compounds.

All the compounds synthesized by Kogan inhibited cancer cell growth in cell culture, and one of them was found to markedly reduce the volume of tumors in animal studies The cannabinoid quinones were found to act through a rather unique pathway of cancer cell destruction – by specific inhibition of topoisomerase II, an enzyme that participates in cell replication. Most of the known anti-cancer drugs are less selective.

The most active compound in the series developed by Kogan, as well as some other cannabinoids, were found by Kogan and HU Prof. Ruth Galilli to suppress the formation of the new blood vessels crucial for tumor growth, and much effort has been invested by researchers in the development of compounds with anti-angiogenic activity.

The annual Kaye Innovation Awards were established in 1994 by Isaac Kaye, a prominent British industrialist in the pharmaceutical industry, to encourage HU faculty, staff and students to develop innovative methods and inventions with commercial potential.