HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) - WHTM in Harrisburg is reporting that new research from Penn State College of Medicine shows medical marijuana may stop the growth of colon cancer cells.
According to the National Cancer Institute, colorectal cancer is one of the most common cancers diagnosed in the U.S. The research looks to change the outcome for patients.
"Colorectal cancer is the third most common cause of cancer in the United States and it's also the third most common cause of cancer-related deaths in the U.S.," said Wesley Raup-Konsavage, the research project manager.
The researchers looked at synthetic derivatives of the compounds found in medical marijuana and how they interacted with cancer cells in test tubes.
"Of the 370 compounds, it turns out that 10 were fairly effective against all colon cancer cell lines," said Kent Vrana, chair of the Department of Pharmacology at Penn State College of Medicine.
Researchers will next look at making these compounds more potent and effective against cancer cells.
"The possibility for medical marijuana is immediate because that can be used now in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania," said Vrana. "We just don't know what it's doing. In terms of these specialized chemicals, they probably wouldn't become true drugs for another five to 10 years."
While this research was focused mainly on colon cancer cells, it could impact other cancer cells as well.
"We have a sense for what works there. We suspect it will work for other things," said Vrana. "We're actually trying it for neuroblastoma right now."
The National Institutes of Health helped support the study, which took about a year and a half. Right now in Pennsylvania, there are about 20 qualifying conditions to become a medical marijuana patient, which include cancer, autism, epilepsy, and HIV.