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The potential of cannabinoids to alleviate the symptoms of cancer, and even treat its underlying causes, has been discussed in pre-clinical research papers since the early 1970s, where it was demonstrated that the growth of lung tumours in mice could be slowed by THC and other cannabinoids. While the ability of cannabinoids to alleviate the symptoms of cancer is widely accepted, studies suggest that cannabinoids may be effective in the direct treatment of multiple cancer types (for instance glioblastoma multiforme and pancreatic cancer). Some studies have also affirmed that cannabinoids have a protective effect against certain types of tumours, with in vitro and in vivo research suggesting that cannabinoids can stimulate apoptosis and autophagy, and inhibit cell proliferation and angiogenesis. Some cannabinoids have been shown to reduce metastasis in animal models by reducing invasiveness of cancer cells. 

In addition to the potential of phytocannabinoids as cancer treatments, other molecules found in the cannabis plant (e.g. flavonoids) are increasingly at the centre of research. In a recent study, a flavonoid derivative has shown to increase survival time of mice with pancreatic cancer significantly and reduce tumour size. It is also important to note that, depending on concentration, studies have found that cannabinoids can both inhibit and stimulate cancer cell proliferation: more research must therefore be undertaken on the effects of cannabinoids on different tumour cell types.

Oncology is one of the core research areas of OCT. Our focus is on cancers with high unmet medical need such as lung and pancreatic cancer. OCT’s oncology program screens phytocannabinoids and proprietary compounds across multiple cancer types and against certain developmental stage characteristics, such as angiogenesis and metastasis. In this fashion, OCT is developing cancer type and stage-specific cannabinoid-based treatments.