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Texas A&M Scientists Hope To Cure Pancreatic Cancer With Marijuana-Like Drug

By on August 25, 2013
Dr. Dai Lu of Texas A&M is leading the development of a drug that could cure pancreatic cancer by mimicking the effects of marijuana.

Dr. Dai Lu of Texas A&M is leading the development of a drug that may be able to cure pancreatic cancer by mimicking the effects of marijuana. – Researchers at Texas A&M University are collaborating with others across the country to develop drugs that mimic the effects of marijuana, according to a recent Texas A&M release.

The drugs have shown early promise in treating a long list of disorders – including cancer.

Dr. Dai Lu with research associate Dr. Hamed Aly-Ismail

Dr. Dai Lu with associate Dr. Hamed Aly-Ismail

Dai Lu, Ph.D, an assistant professor of pharmaceutical sciences, and his team are looking at the body’s cannabinoid system and how it can be used for illnesses such as “pancreatic cancer, cerebral disorders like Alzheimer’s disease and traumatic brain injuries, and metabolic diseases like diabetes and obesity.”

The cannabinoid system is also thought to be responsible for many of the medical effects of marijuana. Unfortunately, legal barriers that prevent research on the plant itself have pushed researchers toward synthetic chemicals that mimic the plant’s effects.

Pancreatic cancer remains one of the deadliest types of cancer and Dr. Lu has been searching for a cure since losing his father to the disease in 2003.

In the release, Dr. Lu explained how targeting the cannabinoid system could lead to treatments that can kill pancreatic cancer and suppress cancer pain at the same time:

“Pancreatic cancer cells have more type 2 cannabinoid receptors than do healthy cells. Drug molecules that selectively activate this receptor can induce cancer cell death without affecting normal pancreatic cells. When given to mice with pancreatic tumors, the molecule prevented tumor growth and suppressed the spread of cancer to healthy organs. Meanwhile, this class of compounds generates painkillers comparable to morphine’s pain killing effect.”

Lu’s other work involves the ability of cannabinoids to prevent inflammation in the brain caused by disorders like Alzheimer’s or traumatic injury.

He hopes to begin the drug development stage in the next few years with grants (pending) from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Department of Defense.

The full press release is available online at

  • Barb

    Of course the scientists and doctors, who already know the benefits of cannabis used as medicines, will have to find some way to get their hands into the pot (pun intended) so that they can prescribe and sell it and make more money. Oops, I forgot the biggest culprits of all, the pharmaceutical companies!! A natural weed that God has given to all of us to help and to cure us, and we cannot even grow it for ourselves.

  • MikeParent

    What a stupid policy that forces scientists to try and invent something that already exists in nature because of ridiculous, unnecessary restrictions. This is embarrassing for a modern society.

  • PatrickMonkRn

    The ONLY reason these criminal snake oil salesmen in the Medical and Pharmaceutical Industry keep trying to re-invent the wheel is so they can continue making obscene profits from human misery and suffering.
    Patrick Monk.RN. Hospice Case Manager. SF. Ca.
    Society of Cannabis Clinicians.