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Cannabinoids and cancer: pros and cons of an antitumour strategy

Source: British Journal of Pharmacology

Published: February 26, 2006



In the last two decades, research has dramatically increased the knowledge of cannabinoids biology and
pharmacology. In mammals, compounds with properties similar to active components of Cannabis sativa,
the so called ‘endocannabinoids’, have been shown to modulate key cell-signalling pathways involved in
cancer cell growth, invasion and metastasis. To date, cannabinoids have been licensed for clinical use as
palliative treatment of chemotherapy, but increased evidences showed direct antiproliferative actions of
cannabinoid agonists on several tumour cells in vitro and in animal models. In this article, we will review
the principal molecular pathways modulated by cannabinoids on cancer and summarize pros and cons
evidence on the possible future use of endocannabinoid-based drugs in cancer therapy.