Cannabis as treatment for animal cancer

Can cannabis products kill cancer cells? A study at the University of Guelph’s Ontario Veterinary College (OVC) aims to find out.

Prof. Sam Hocker, Department of Clinical Studies, is undertaking a three-year study to learn more about the anti-cancer properties of cannabidiol and its potential for treating urothelial carcinoma, a difficult-to-treat bladder cancer in animals.

The project will provide much-needed research on veterinary applications of cannabis, said OVC dean Jeff Wichtel.

“Veterinarians and pet owners have been eager for information on the medical applications for cannabis,” he says. “This groundbreaking work will help us learn about the role of cannabinoids in cancer and advance this field of medical research in Canada.”

Most bladder carcinomas in humans are treated with surgery and immunotherapy, but some cases are harder to treat. Hocker says work with dogs could help design potential therapeutic options for more aggressive forms of bladder cancer in humans.

Medicinal cannabis is used to treat people, but currently, no products are licensed in Canada for treating animals. Lobbying is under way for legislation to allow veterinarians to authorize use of medical cannabis.

For this research, OVC received one of Canada’s first grants for veterinary cannabis research. Funding came from Grey Wolf Animal Health, a specialty animal health company.