Cannabinoids previously had been shown to kill cancer cells in lab experiments by inducing apoptosis - programmed cell death. The team confirmed the role of CB1 in apoptosis, showing that tumor cells with high CB1 expression were sensitive to apoptosis when treated by a cannabinoid agonist. Cell lines with silenced CB1 resisted cell death.
A series of experiments showed that CB1 increases cancer cell death by stifling a protein called survivin. Survivin is overexpressed in nearly every human tumor but is barely detectable in normal tissue, DuBois noted. Overexpression of survivin is associated with poor outcome and reduced apoptosis in colorectal cancer patients. The researchers pinpointed a cell signaling pathway by which activated CB1 cuts down survivin.Do you want to know more?
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