Scientists Explore Cannabis Extracts as Potential Preventative COVID-19 Therapy
A study published online in Preprints suggests that cannabis extractions containing THC and CBD could help prevent the coronavirus from spreading to and infecting humans.
The study, which was conducted under a Health Canada research license, demonstrated that the cannabinoids could lower the production of two proteins — angiotensin-converting enzyme II (ACE2) and the serine protease TMPRSS2 — which are commonly hacked by the coronavirus to create a new infection.
“Cannabis sativa, especially one high in the anti-inflammatory cannabinoid cannabidiol (CBD), has been proposed to modulate gene expression and inflammation and harbour anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties,” the authors wrote.
The researchers did not posit cannabis extracts as a potential cure or solution for the ongoing pandemic but said that the extracts could be useful as an “adjunct therapy” in combating the virus’s spread.
Ultimately, the study, while an exciting development, is accompanied by many caveats, including the fact that all research published in Preprints has not been peer-reviewed — the online platform is essentially a database for researchers to quickly share their findings and therefore does not carry the same weight as a peer-reviewed study.
Additionally, the researchers did not conduct their experiments with human subjects; rather, they exposed cultures of human cells that are responsible for manufacturing the target protein to cannabis extracts.
“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. … Given the current dire and rapidly evolving epidemiological situation, every possible therapeutic opportunity and avenue must be considered.” — Excerpt from the study abstract, published on Preprints.org
It is also possible that the extracts used in the study contained more than just the cannabinoids THC and CBD (such as terpenes and other, rarer cannabinoids) and that those potential substances could also have played a role in the cells’ down-regulation.