Analysis of Potential Anti-Cancer Effects of Cannabinol and Cannabidiol using HCC1806 and HEK293 Cell Lines


  • Marina Galatonov* University of Lethbridge, Department of Biological Sciences
  • Dongping Li University of Lethbridge, Department of Biological Sciences
  • Nuanying Zhong University of Lethbridge, Department of Biological Sciences
  • Igor Kovalchuk University of Lethbridge, Department of Biological Sciences


Humans produce endocannabinoids that act as neuromodulators in the endocannabinoid system. They bind to Gαi protein-coupled cannabinoid receptors to control the release of many neurotransmitters. Cannabinoids receptor 1 (CB1) mediates psychoactive effects through its location mostly in the central nervous system while Cannabinoid receptor 2 (CB2) regulates various immune responses through its location in peripheral tissues. The endocannabinoid system has been used as a molecular target by research to treat diseases such as multiple sclerosis, cardiovascular disorders, obesity and inflammatory pain. Thus, the endocannabinoid system is a potential molecular target to treat cancer. With the proposed legalization of recreational marijuana and with growing number of patients using cannabis for medicinal purpose, there is an urgent need to provide data on potential medicinal value of cannabis and cannabinoids.

The Cannabis Sativa plant naturally synthesizes numerous different cannabinoids of which (CBN) and cannabidiol (CBD) have promising properties in cancer treatment. CBD is a phytocannabinoid known for its anticonvulsant and anti-nausea properties. Previous research suggests that CBD can target breast cancer cells while preserving normal cells. CBN is another phyotocannabinoid with anti-inflammatory properties that can potentially aid to reduce inflammation resulting from cancer. This study aims to determine if CBN and CBD have an effect on cancer cells and normal cells. We hypothesize that we may observe an increase in apoptosis of cancer cells treated with the two compounds but no effect or perhaps even a slight increase in normal cell growth. Preliminary data in lab suggests that these compounds have anti-cancer properties and we want to solidify this evidence through repetition of the experiment. Various concentrations of CBN and CBD were administered separately to HCC1806 breast cancer cells and HEK293 normal human kidney cells for 24 hours before conducting apoptosis and cell cycle assays to determine if the cannabinoids had induced cell death or affected proliferation.

*Indicates presenter





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