Combining chemotherapy with cannabinoids may help fight leukemia, a new study suggests.

Researchers from St. George’s, University of London have discovered that pairing the active chemicals in cannabis with chemotherapy is more effective at killing cancerous tumors than chemotherapy by itself.

The study suggests doctors may be able to administer lower doses of chemotherapy, thus reducing the treatment’s side effects for patients. The findings also indicate that using cannabinoids after chemotherapy led to more thorough destruction of cancer cells.

“We have shown for the first time that the order in which cannabinoids and chemotherapy are used is crucial in determining the overall effectiveness of this treatment,” said lead author Dr. Wai Liu.

Liu and his team set out to explore the effects of different combinations of cannabinoids against leukeumia, hoping to find out whether existing chemotherapy worked effectively with cannabinoids and whether using the drugs in different orders made any difference.

In their findings – published in the International Journal of Oncology – the researchers write that cannabinoids possess “anticancer activity” when used by themselves in treatment.

Several of these compounds also combined favourably to destroy leukaemia cells, added researchers, who paired different kinds of cannabinoids with the common leukemia chemotherapy drugs cytarabine and vincristine.

While Liu admits more trials are needed, he says that “studies such as ours serve to establish the best ways that they should be used to maximise a therapeutic effect.”

h/t Daily Mail