The last quarter century has borne witness to great advances in both the detection and treatment of numerous cancers. Even so, malignancies of the central nervous system, especially high-grade astrocytomas, continue to thwart our best efforts toward effective chemotherapeutic strategies. With prognosis remaining bleak, the time for serious consideration of alternative therapies has arrived. Various preparations of the marijuana plant, Cannabis sativa, and related synthetic and endogenous compounds, may constitute just such an alternative. Cannabinoids, although much maligned historically for their psychotropic effects and clear abuse potential, have long been used medicinally and are now staging an impressive comeback, as recent studies have begun to explore their powerful anti-tumoral properties. In this study, we review in vitro and in vivo evidence supporting the use of cannabinoids for treatment of brain tumors. We further propose the continued intense investigation of cannabinoid efficacies as novel anti-cancer agents, especially in models recapitulating such properties within the unique environment of the brain.
Department of Pharmacology, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195-7280, USA.