Ursidae: The Undergraduate Research Journal at the University of Northern Colorado

Faculty Sponsor

Dr. Richard M. Hyslop

Second Faculty Sponsor

Dr. Nicholas, A. Pullen


-Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) are phytocannabinoids that have a potential impact in cancer treatments. Studies have shown that certain cannabinoids cause cancer cells to die, but only with selective concentrations, which have not been well documented. The first study of this thesis was to determine the exact concentration of CBD and THC needed to kill human MCF-7 breast cancer cells rather than create mass multiplication leading to more growth of the cancer. To conduct this experiment, cell culture was performed with a MCF-7 breast cancer cell line. The treatment groups were treated with CBD or THC at varying concentrations including 0.1, 1, 10, and 100 µM. Observations were made by using tetrazolium dye (MTT assay), which is a colorimetric assay for measuring cell proliferation. Additionally, as an alternative approach to assess cell death, Western blot was performed. MCF-7 cells were analyzed for apoptosis through Western blotting by detecting poly ADP ribose polymerase (PARP) cleavage. CBD inhibited MCF-7 breast cancer growth, whereas THC stimulated MCF-7 breast cancer cell proliferation. MTT assay and Western blot displayed the same pattern, CBD being the most effective treatment, but with different effective concentrations. The MTT assay method suggested that 1 µM cannabidiol was the most effective, but the Western blot indicated that 10 µM cannabidiol was the most effective. These results are inconstant and have not been replicated. This research is a progression of experiments that will narrow the effective concentration needed to cause cancer cell apoptosis. Favorable findings may provide an accessible and affordable cannabinoid-based treatment for patients.

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