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Cannabis Extract PHEC-66: Potential Adjuvant Therapy for Malignant Melanoma?

By: Sarah Lynch
Posted: Friday, March 1, 2024

A group of researchers from Charles Darwin University and the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) examined the potential of using cannabinoid-derived compounds as treatments for malignant melanoma. Nazim Nassar, PhD, of RMIT University, Bundoora, Australia, and colleagues determined that the cannabis extract PHEC-66 slowed cell growth and reduced apoptosis in melanoma cell lines. They reported their findings recently in the journal Cells.

“This is a growing area of important research because we need to understand cannabis extracts as much as possible, especially their potential to function as anticancer agents. If we know how they react to cancer cells, particularly in the cause of cell death, we can refine treatment techniques to be more specific, responsive, and effective,” said Dr. Nassar in a Charles Darwin University press release. “Advanced delivery systems still need to be fully developed, underscoring the importance of ongoing efforts to ensure the proper and effective use of these agents at target sites.”

The researchers studied PHEC-66, an extract from Cannabis sativa, and how it reacts to the MM418-C1, MM329, and MM96L melanoma cell lines. They used real-time polymerase chain reaction assays to evaluate the inhibition of CB1 and CB2 receptors, measurement of reactive oxygen species, apoptosis assays, and fluorescence-activated cell sorting for apoptosis and cell-cycle analysis.

They determined that PHEC-66 increases the expression of proapoptotic markers while reducing the expression of antiapoptotic markers, therefore triggering cell apoptosis. PHEC-66 was also shown to hinder the G1 cell-cycle checkpoint by inducing DNA fragmentation, increasing intracellular reactive oxygen species levels. Although more preclinical research must be conducted to further investigate the effect of PHEC-66 on melanoma, the researchers indicated their study findings show its potential as adjuvant therapy for malignant melanoma.

Disclosure: For full disclosures of the study authors, visit

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