Cannabinoids block cellular entry of SARS-CoV-2 and emerging variants
Compounds in cannabis can prevent infection with the virus that causes Covid-19 by blocking its entry into cells, according to a study published this week by researchers affiliated with Oregon State University. A report on this research, titled "Cannabinoids Block Cellular Entry of SARS-CoV-2 and the Emerging Variants," was published online Monday by the Journal of Natural Products.
Researchers have found that two cannabinoid acids commonly found in hemp varieties of cannabis, cannabigerolic acid, or CBGA, and cannabidiolic acid, also known as CBDA, can bind to the protein. spike from SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19. By binding to the spike protein, the compounds can prevent the virus from entering cells and causing infection, which could provide new possibilities for disease prevention and treatment.
"Orally bioavailable and with a long history of safe use in humans, these cannabinoids, isolated or in hemp extracts, have the potential to prevent as well as treat SARS-CoV infection." 2, ”the researchers wrote in a summary of the study.
THEsurvey was conducted by Richard van Breemen, a researcher at the Oregon State Global Hemp Innovation Center at the College of Pharmacy and the Linus Pauling Institute, in collaboration with scientists from Oregon Health & Science University. Van Breeman said the cannabinoids studied are common and readily available.
"These cannabinoid acids are abundant in hemp and in many hemp extracts," van Breemen said, quoted by local media. “They are not controlled substances like THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, and have a good safety profile in humans. "
Like antibodies, compounds in hemp have the ability to connect to peak proteins in the virus, according to the study. It is hoped that further studies can translate these results to the human body and determine the ideal dose to prevent infection, Mr van Breemen said in a telephone interview.
The legalization of weed could explain why some states have posted lower rates of coronavirus-related cases, hospitalizations and deaths throughout the pandemic, he added.
Coronavirus statistics show states where weed consumption is legal, including Maine, New Hampshire, Alaska, Washington, Colorado and California, have death rates and cases of COVID-19 among the lowest in the country. But van Breemen's hypothesis about the benefits of the acidic compounds in hemp has yet to be investigated.
His team of scientists identified the two cannabinoid acids using a mass spectrometry-based screening technique invented in van Breemen's lab. They screened plant substances from plants used in food supplements, including hops and three species of licorice.
The study found that cannabinoid acids - which are abundant in hemp and hemp extract products already on the market and have a good safety record in humans - were effective against the coronavirus and its alpha and beta variants.
Mr Van Breeman said people who use hemp-based products can check the certificate of analysis of the products to see how much of the acidic compounds that have been shown to be effective coronavirus blockers - CBD-A, CBG- A and THC-A - one product contains.
The best way to administer these compounds is to take oral supplements, says van Breeman. Smoking or vape is not enough because heating the compound removes the acidic part of the molecule which is essential for activity against the virus.
“I hope our preliminary evidence is predictive of efficacy in people,” van Breeman said. “The next step is to continue the cellular study with different variants of the virus. We will be testing omicron and doing pilot studies to find the efficacy and optimal dose. "