Per CANNABINOIDI si intende un’ampia famiglia di composti chimici (naturali e artificiali) che si legano a uno stesso recettore espresso da più cellule dell’organismo umano. Già da secoli gli uomini erano soliti utilizzare la cannabis sia come sostanza curativa che ricreativa. I cannabinoidi sono stati purificati dalla pianta per la prima volta negli anni ’40, mentre risale solo agli anni ’80 l’identificazione dei recettori cui essi si legano. Ad oggi sono conosciuti 3 tipi di recettori che legano allo stesso modo sia i cannabinoidi esogeni, sia sostanze endogene dette ENDOCANNABINOIDI. Tali recettori sono coinvolti in una vasta gamma di attività come controllo della memoria e del dolore, metabolismo energetico, funzionalità cardiaca e del sistema immune, riproduzione.

Recettore dei cannabinoidi

Dato l’ampio spettro d’azione è intuitivo collegare tali sostanze a eventi patologici di diversa natura, a quelle più note possiamo aggiungere oggi anche le malattie neurodegenerative e il cancro. Sin dagli anni ’70, infatti, i ricercatori si sono interrogati sulle possibili proprietà antitumorali di queste particolari molecole e IN VITRO molti lavori hanno dimostrato che i cannabinoidi possono di fatto intervenire a vari livelli nella battaglia contro le cellule cancerose. Si è visto che in determinate condizioni sono in grado di indurre apoptosi, favorire l’autofagia, ridurre le capacità proliferative e prevenire l’angiogenesi e la metastatizzazione.

Di contro è stato anche visto che, sempre in determinate condizioni differenti dalle suddette, le stesse sostanze sono capaci di incoraggiare la crescita cellulare tumorale. Questi effetti contraddittori sono legati principalmente al dosaggio e ai livelli di espressione dei recettori sulle cellule tumorali (il che forse potrebbe far pensare a una differente azione su pazienti con storia di consumo abituale di sostanze stupefacenti). Ad oggi non sono stati chiariti molti aspetti delle proprietà biologiche dei cannabinoidi e, soprattutto, non è stato definito quale sia il dosaggio più opportuno da somministrare e quali tipi di cancro siano responsivi  azione. E’ però certo che differenti molecole hanno effetti diversi sui vari tipi di tumore e, quindi, un loro eventuale utilizzo in ambito terapeutico debba essere ben ponderato e studiato in modo altamente accurato. E’ dello scorso novembre uno studio (pubblicato su Molecular Cancer Therapeutics) che dimostra come i cannabinoidi, associati a radioterapia, siano stati in grado di inibire in maniera specifica la crescita di un glioma in un modello animale. Allo stesso tempo in questo esperimento si sono rivelati capaci di bloccare eventi tumorali fondamentali per lo sviluppo in senso maligno del glioma, come per esempio l’angiogenesi. I risultati di questo esperimento dimostrano che la riduzione della vitalità delle cellule tumorali è DOSE e DURATA dipendente. Oltre a queste osservazioni si è anche registrata una maggiore sensibilità della cellula tumorale alla radioterapia, associata ad aumentata apoptosi e autofagia.

Oltre le evidenze sperimentali bisogna ora far fronte a problemi di ordine pratico legati agli effetti psicotropi e alla ridotta diffusibilità di queste molecole nei nostri tessuti. Inoltre non va sottovalutato l’effetto mediatico che la notizia deve affrontare e i facili fraintendimenti cui può andare incontro. In conclusione si può affermare che sicuramente un uso empirico ragionato dei derivati della cannabis può essere un valido strumento terapeutico, almeno secondo i dati di laboratorio ad oggi disponibili, ma che nel caso in cui tali evidenze dovessero essere confermate anche sull’uomo non significherebbe che “farsi una canna cura il cancro”! Dobbiamo sempre continuare a tenere a mente gli effetti distruttivi del consumo abituale di cannabis che comunque i ricercatori seguitano a evidenziare, nonché l’evidenza che per un buon trattamento il dosaggio deve essere altamente specifico e controllato.

Fonte | http://scienceblog.cancerresearchuk.org/2012/07/25/cannabis-cannabinoids-and-cancer-the-evidence-so-far/

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