Cannabis Strains Show Promise For Preventing COVID-19 Infection: U of L Study

Written By Guest User, Posted on May 8, 2020

Looking to avoid catching COVID-19? Researchers at the University of Lethbridge have narrowed in on a dozen strains of cannabis that show great promise in preventing the virus from taking root. 

“While our most successful extracts require further validation in a large-scale analysis and an animal model, our study is crucial for the future analysis of the effects of medical cannabis on COVID-19,” say Drs. Igor (CEO of Pathway RX) and Olga Kovalchuk, both U of L biology professors.

“A number of them have reduced the number of these (virus) receptors by 73 per cent, the chance of it getting in is much lower,” said Kovalchuk.

This new research is being conducted in partnership with Pathway RX, a research company focused on developing custom cannabis therapies, and Swysh, a company focused on cannabinoid research and development.

The Kovalchuk’s and the team of researchers have submitted a research paper on their findings, however, it has yet to be peer reviewed or published in a journal. 

Dr. Igor Kolvachuck

Dr. Igor Kolvachuck

The study focused on how certain cannabis extracts affected ACE2 and TMPRSS2 proteins. The proteins are embedded within the cellular membrane and represent a key entrance point for the COVID-19 virus to enter host cells.

Using C. sativa extracts, the researchers modulated the levels of these enzymes. According to the initial data, 13 C. sativa extracts high in the anti-inflammatory CBD (cannabinoid cannabidiol) can modulate ACE2 expression in COVID-19 target tissues and down-regulate TMPRSS2.

“Given the current dire and rapidly developing epidemiological situation, every possible therapeutic opportunity and avenue needs to be considered,” says Kovalchuk. “Our research team is actively pursuing partnerships to conduct clinical trials.”

If the research were to come to fruition and reach the broader population, it could be used to develop preventative treatments in the form of a mouthwash or throat gargle product for clinical and home use.

So far, the Kolvachucks and their team have generated over a 1,000 C. sativa hybrids and tested them on human tissue and cells to learn about their biological impact. These varieties are now patented and are currently licensed to ab Alberta-based licensed cannabis producer and partner of Pathway RX, Sundial Growers. 

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

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