Cannabis promises to reduce coronavirus infection: Alberta study


The scientist stressed that the results would not lead to a vaccine – something “less specific and precise” but nevertheless another possible weapon against COVID-19

Cannabis extracts show potential to make people more resistant to the new coronavirus, says Alberta researcher conducting a study.

After screening 400 strains of cannabis, researchers at the University of Lethbridge are focusing on a dozen that show promising results in ensuring less fertile ground for the potentially deadly virus to take root, said biological scientist Dr Igor. Kovalchuk.

“A number of them have reduced the number of these (viral) receptors by 73%, the chances of them entering are much lower,” said Kovalchuk.

“If they can reduce the number of receptors, there is much less chance of being infected. “

Employing strains of cannabis sativa in the past three months, the researcher said the effective balance between the components of cannabis THC and CBD – the latter more commonly associated with medical use – is still unclear to block the new coronavirus.

“It will take a long time to find out what the active ingredient is – there can be a lot of it,” said Kovalchuk, who partnered with Alberta cannabis research firm Swysh and Pathway RX, this the latter partly owned by licensed cannabis producer Sunds Growers, based in Olds. .

But it is generally the high-CBD anti-inflammatory properties that have shown the most promise, he added.

“We are focusing more on the higher CBD because people can take higher doses and not be weak,” said Kovalchuk.

The Health Canada licensed study using three-dimensional human artificial tissue models looked for ways to prevent the highly contagious new coronavirus from finding a host in the lungs, intestines, and oral cavity.

If successful, the job could find practical medical use in the form of a mouthwash, gargles, inhalants or gel capsules, said Kovalchuk.

“It would be cheaper for people and have far fewer side effects,” he said.

But the lack of clinical trials remains a barrier, and funding for an increasingly cash-strapped cannabis industry is not there to fuel this, said Kovalchuk.

“We have clinicians who are willing to work with us, but for many cannabis companies, it is a large sum of money that they cannot afford,” he said.

The scientist stressed that the results would not lead to a vaccine – something “less specific and precise” but nevertheless another possible weapon against COVID-19.

“The extracts from our most successful and innovative CBD C-rich sativa lines, pending further investigation, could become a useful and safe addition to the treatment of COVID-19 as adjunct therapy,” said Kovalchuk.

“In view of the current dramatic and rapidly evolving epidemiological situation, all the possibilities and possible therapeutic routes must be taken into consideration.”

Israeli researchers have started clinical trials of CBD as a treatment to repair cells damaged by COVID-19 using its anti-inflammatory capabilities.

It is believed that CBD could enhance the traditional effect of steroids in such treatment of life-threatening patients and also strengthen the immune system.

This is the kind of research and hers that deserves government funding in Canada, said the U of L scientist.

“Our work could have a huge influence – there aren’t a lot of drugs that can reduce the infection by 70-80%,” he said.

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Twitter: @BillKaufmannjrn


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