Cannabis plant could provide elements to prevent COVID infections, according to study

These acids are not controlled substances like THC (the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana), so they are safe to use.

These acids are not controlled substances like THC (the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana), so they are safe to use.

Photo: MLADEN ANTONOV / AFP / Getty Images

Two acids found in the cannabis plant, cannabigerolic or CBGA, and cannabidiolic acid or CBDA, could prevent the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 from entering human cells, according to a laboratory study published in the Journal of Nature Products.

These compounds, identified through an innovative chemical screening technique by researchers at the University of Oregon (OSU), would bind to virus proteins and block a substance that the pathogen uses to infect people. Scientists have already performed laboratory tests with the alpha and beta variants of COVID-19, they reported, but have not conducted human studies.

History of safe use in humans

These cannabinoid acids are abundant in the cannabis plant and in many extracts of it“Said study author Richard van Breemen, a researcher at the OSU’s Center for Global Cannabis Plant Innovation.

They are not controlled substances like THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, and they have a good safety profile in humans. And our research showed that compounds from the cannabis plant were equally effective against SARS-CoV-2 variants, including variant B.1.1.7, which was first detected in the UK, and variant B. 1,351, detected for the first time in South Africa, “he added.

Hemp, scientifically known as cannabis sativa, is used in all kinds of products, including foods, cosmetics, body lotions, and dietary supplements. among others. “These compounds, which can be taken orally, have a long history of safe use in humans,” confirms van Breemen. “They have the potential to prevent and treat coronavirus infection.”

Structure of SARS-CoV-2

SARS-CoV-2 is characterized by its crown-shaped protrusions on its outer surface and has RNA strands that encode its four main structural proteins (spike, envelope, membrane, and nucleocapsid) and 16 non-structural proteins and several of the so-called accessory proteins, explains van Breemen.

According to the expert, each part of the infection and replication cycle is a potential target for antiviral measures. Association of the spike protein receptor-binding domain with the human cell surface receptor ACE2 is an especially critical step in this cycle.

Prevent and shorten the duration of the infection

This means that inhibitors of entry into cells, such as the acids in cannabis, could be used, according to the scientist, to prevent infection by SARS-CoV-2 and also to shorten the duration of the infection by preventing the particles of the virus infect human cells.

The components would thus bind to the spike proteins so that they cannot bind to the ACE2 enzyme, which is abundant in the outer membrane of the endothelial cells of the lungs and other organs, explains the OSU expert, who adds that the Use of compounds that block the interaction between the virus and the receptor has already proven useful in people with other viral infections, such as HIV-1 and hepatitis.

Similarly, Van Breemen said that resistant variants could still emerge amid widespread use of cannabinoids, but that the combination of vaccination and CBDA / CBGA treatment should create a much more difficult environment for SARS-CoV-2. .

(With information from DW)

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