A research study which identified cannabis compounds as a therapeutic agent to prevent COVID-19 infection is being evaluated by medical experts.
The study published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Natural Products by researchers from Oregon State University and Oregon Health & Sciences University, stated that cannabis compounds could serve as therapeutic agent to prevent COVID-19 by blocking the virus from entering human cells.
The new report revealed that the findings pointed to the cannabis compounds as, “virus neutralising” capable of blocking the entry of coronavirus in high concentrations that the researchers note are, “high but might be clinically achievable.”
Dr. Uyilawa Okhuaihesuyi, a former President of the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD), said it was too early to celebrate the breakthrough. “Sincerely I am just hearing of this for the first time. But I am quite sure many studies are presently going on. I do advice we wait for a universally acceptable study than jump into this for the side effects also,” he said.
Dr. Akanimo Ebong, a medical consultant at the National Hospital, Abuja, said, “Like everything that has scientific basis, other people will have to go through it and what the result of study is and it has to be reproducible in various parts of the world.
“For instance, this new study, the world will have to know which compound from the cannabis they are talking about and what is the method of intake of cannabis. Is it by injecting it or is it by taken it orally as a pill?
“We know there are some compounds of cannabis used for cancer treatment and we also know that there are some compounds of cannabis used in encouraging hair growth. So it is not a new thing in science as some compounds of cannabis have been used in one healthcare or the other,” he added.
According to the study report, the scientists were looking for a biological compound that could bind with the spike protein of the SARS-COV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19.
The researchers used a technique called affinity-selection mass spectrometry (used to quickly assess a large volume of compounds) on cannabis, which they honed in on three compounds: cannabigerolic acid, or CBG-A; tetrahydrocannabinolic acid, or THC-A; and cannabidiolic acid, or CBD-A.
They had incubated the live virus with cannabis compounds as well as a control and, after 24 hours, injected them into human epithelial cells; they found that cells that had been treated with CBD-A and CBG-A lacked SARS-COV-2 RNA.
The report stated that the researchers performed the same procedure on live alpha and beta variants, first detected in the UK and South Africa, respectively, and found that the compounds had the same effect in both cases.
“Our data show minimal impact of the variant lineages on the effectiveness of CBDA and CBGA, a trend that will hopefully extend to other existing and future variants,” the researchers wrote.
On the method of use of cannabis, the researchers recommended oral administration of the compounds, meaning that adequate use of cannabis for COVID-19 prevention would likely come in the form of a pill or liquid.
“These compounds can be taken orally and have a long history of safe use in humans,” said Richard Van Breemen, first author on the study and Professor of Medicinal Chemistry at the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon University.