May 25, 2020
Okay, we can’t resist it: A team of Canadian scientists has ‘high hopes.” They believe they have found strong strains of cannabis that could help prevent or treat novel coronavirus infections, The New York Post reports.
Researchers from the University of Lethbridge say that a study they conducted in April showed at least 13 cannabis plants were high in a form of CBD that appeared to affect the ACE2 pathways—which are gateways to cells—that the virus uses to access the body.
“We were totally stunned at first, and then we were really happy,” one of the researchers, Olga Kovalchuk, told CTV News on April 21. Indeed, she and her husband, Igor—both of whom have been working with cannabis since 2015—believe that, while clinical trials still need to be done, the data they have collected show promise that some cannabis extracts may be used to effectively block and address the symptoms of COVID-19.
The results, posted in the online journal, Preprints, indicate that hemp extracts high in CBD may help block proteins that provide a “gateway” for COVID-19 to enter host cells.
Igor Kovalchuck is optimistic that the forms of cannabis that he and Olga have identified will be able to reduce the virus’ entry points by as much as 70%. “Therefore, you have more chance to fight it,” he told CTV.
“Our work could have a huge influence—there aren’t many drugs that have the potential of reducing infection by 70% to 80%,” he told the Calgary Herald.
Cannabis even could be used to “develop easy-to-use preventative treatments in the form of mouthwash and throat gargle products,” the study suggested, with a “potential to decrease viral entry” through the mouth.
“The key thing is not that any cannabis you would pick up at the store will do the trick,” Olga told CTV, with the study suggesting just a handful of more than 800 varieties of sativa seemed to help.
The researchers are seeking funding to continue their efforts to support scientific initiatives to address COVID-19.
“While our most effective extracts require further large-scale validation, our study is crucial for the future analysis of the effects of medical cannabis on COVID-19,” the research said.
“Given the current dire and rapidly evolving epidemiological situation, every possible therapeutic opportunity and avenue must be considered.”
Research contact: @nypost