SILVER SPRING, Md., Feb. 20, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Nuvilex, Inc. (OTCQB:NVLX), international biotechnology and clinical stage provider of natural products and cell and gene therapy solutions for the treatment of diseases, announced today its subsidiary, Medical Marijuana Sciences, Inc., is planning to develop treatments for pancreatic cancer based on cannabinoids from Cannabis sativa. In 2006, in a publication in the prestigious scientific journal Cancer Research, cannabinoids were reported to cause the death of pancreatic cells in laboratory and animal studies; these results were also seen with human pancreatic cancer cells implanted in mice whose immune systems were suppressed. Since then, laboratory studies have shown that when gemcitabine (Gemzar®), the only drug approved by the FDA as a single agent for the treatment of advanced pancreatic cancer, was combined with three different cannabinoids (each used singly), the growth inhibition was more than additive for six different pancreatic cancer cell lines. When these studies were done with human pancreatic cancer cells in immunosuppressed mice, the antitumor effectiveness of gemcitabine was greatly enhanced. These results, combined with those from other studies not mentioned here, indicate the important potential for developing treatments for pancreatic cancer that include the use of cannabinoids. Pancreatic cancer is the fourth deadliest form of cancer worldwide. In 2013, it is estimated that more than 45,000 people in the US alone will be newly diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and that more than 38,000 people will die from this disease ( Cancer Facts & Figures 2013 –American Cancer Society). Pancreatic cancer is extremely hard to detect; it does not show symptoms until it is at an advanced stage and, to date, treatments have only been marginally effective. The median survival of those with advanced, inoperable, pancreatic cancer is given in terms of weeks or months, not years. Gemzar® was approved on the basis that it increased median survival of patients by a mere 1.6 months over the best previously available treatment – this illustrates dramatically the difficulty in treating this form of cancer successfully. Several drugs have been combined with gemcitabine in an effort to improve survival rates, but they have only increased survival by a few months, if at all. Accordingly, there is a great need for the development of new treatments for this devastating form of cancer.