Date of Award

Summer 2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS) in Biology



Committee Chair

Dr. Lori L. Hensley


Over the last decade, much attention has been focused on compounds from Cannabis sativa in treating a variety of diseases including cancer. This study examines the abilities of two different cannabidiol oils to decrease the migration and invasion of melanoma cells in vitro. Skin cancers are the most common cancers in the world. While malignant melanoma is the least common type of skin cancer, it is the deadliest. Patients diagnosed with stage IV disease have only a 15-20% five-year survival rate even with aggressive multimodal treatment, demonstrating the need for additional therapeutic options. Because melanoma is often fatal when it has metastasized, an ideal treatment would not only decrease the proliferation and viability of the cancer cells but would also decrease their ability to spread via these mechanisms. While the medicinal value of Cannabis remains controversial because of the psychotropic effects of the most well-known cannabinoid compound, tetrahydrocannabinol, cannabidiol (CBD) is one of the many compounds in Cannabis that does not produce the high normally associated with the marijuana plant. Cannabidiol has been shown to decrease melanoma growth and viability in vitro and in vivo. The first hypothesis of this study is that CBD oil will also decrease migration and invasion of melanoma cells in vitro. Further, because the Cannabis plant contains over one-hundred-thirteen different cannabinoids and other compounds known to have health benefits, the second hypothesis of this project is that extracted CBD, Charlotte’s Web, oil will have a greater effect on melanoma cells than purified CBD alone. To test these hypotheses, migration assays using a scratch-wound protocol and invasion assays using a modified Boyden chamber assay were used. In the scratch wound assay the purified CBD performed significantly better than the Charlotte’s Web CBD oil at the highest concentration used; however, in the invasion assay there was no significant difference between the performance of the two oils. Our data suggests that both oils are effective in reducing melanoma cells metastatic potential in vitro, and their use as adjuvant or alternative therapies warrants further study.



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