A team of Canadian scientists is testing whether or not marijuana compounds can block the coronavirus infection.
Researchers from the University of Lethbridge at Alberta looked at 400 cannabis strains and focused on a dozen that were promising to prevent the virus from ‘hacking’ our cells.
They say that cannabidiol (CBD) extracts, the main non-psychoactive constituent of pot, have helped reduce the number of available cell receptors for coronavirus by more than 70 percent.
However, the team says that people should not rush cannabis products and that clinical trials are needed to confirm the results.
Researchers from the University of Lethbridge in Alberta, Canada looked at 400 cannabis strains and focused on about a dozen (file image)
They studied how high-CBD extracts, the main non-psychoactive ingredient, interacted with receptors that coronavirus uses to attack cells. Pictured: A nurse sucks the lungs of a COVID-19 patient at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Yonkers, NY, April 20
The pre-peer-reviewed journal was published for the study Pre-pressing, the scientists collaborated with Pathway Rx, a cannabis therapy research company, and Swysh Inc, a cannabinoid-based research company.
The team created artificial 3D human models of oral, respiratory and intestinal tissues with a sample of high CBD extracts from Cannabis Sativa plants.
The extracts are low in THC, the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.
Then, researchers tested the effect the extracts had on angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2), the receptors the virus needs to enter human cells.
The results showed that the extracts helped reduce the number of receptors that are the ‘gateway’ for the coronavirus to ‘hijack’ host cells.
The team, led by Dr. Igor Kovalchuk (photo), found that the extracts reduced the number of receptors the virus uses to infect cells and multiply by more than 70%.
“Some of them have reduced the number [virus] receptors by 73 percent, the chances of it entering are much smaller, “said lead researchers. Igor Kovalchuk, CEO of Pathway Rx. The Calgary Herald.
“If they can reduce the number of receptors, the chance of infection is much smaller.”
They also looked at other receptors such as TMPRSS2, which make it easier for the virus to enter cells and multiply quickly.
“Imagine that a cell is a big building,” Kovalchuk said CTV News.
Cannabinoids reduce the number of doors in the building by, say, 70 percent, which means limiting access levels. So you are more likely to fight it. ‘
However, the team says this doesn’t mean that people should buy marijuana products as prophylactics.
Cannabis and CBD products currently on the market are not designed to treat or prevent infection by COVID-19. Therefore, clinical trials are necessary.
“Given the current nasty and rapidly developing epidemiological situation, every possible therapeutic opportunity and possibility should be considered,” Kovalchuk said in April press release.
“Our research team actively pursues partnerships to conduct clinical trials.”
If trials prove successful, he says the CBD strains can be used as a mouthwash, gargle, inhalants or gel caps,
“It would be cheaper for people and have far fewer side effects,” Kovalchuk told The Herald.