How cannabis extract kills melanoma cells

Building on previous work that demonstrated a cannabis extract helped kill melanoma cancer cells, this study was focused on identifying the mechanisms involved in how cell death was triggered. It was published in the journal Cells in January 2024.

Melanomas are responsible for 80% of skin cancer deaths, and are known for matastasising, or spreading tumors to other parts of the body. It is also resistant to treatment. The authors' stated:

The current pharmacological treatment options for metastatic melanoma are limited, resulting in a low median survival time of ~8–9 months, with <15% of patients surviving beyond three years


Since melanomas are located in skin, topical applications are somewhat similar to an in vitro test - the cannabinoids are directly applied to the cancer cells.

These authors previously demonstrated that an industrial hemp (CBD dominant) extract called PHEC-66 exhibits anticancer effects in vitro, or in a lab culture. This time they were trying to better understand exactly HOW that effect was created on a cellular level.

The experiments in this study are complex, and not necessarily useful to patients on their own. So we will not get into detail about their construction and specific results. You can see it all at the full text article link at the end.

What we think is most important is the authors' final conclusions after performing several studies:

All these actions together start the process of apoptosis and slow down the growth of melanoma cells

we have shown that PHEC-66 impedes the growth of MM418-C1, MM329, and MM96L melanoma cells.

This inhibitory effect arises from interactions with CB1 and CB2 receptors.

PHEC-66 influences metabolic pathways by inducing the accumulation of ROS within these cells, thereby tilting the balance toward pro-apoptotic signalling pathways while diminishing anti-apoptotic ones. 


The full text article is here at



Bachari, A.; Nassar, N.; Telukutla, S.; Zomer, R.; Piva, T.J.; Mantri, N. Evaluating the Mechanism of Cell Death in Melanoma Induced by the Cannabis Extract PHEC-66. Cells 202413, 268.