A recent study that was published by the Journal of Natural Products showed that cannabis-derived cannabinoids can prevent COVID-19 infection by preventing entry of the virus into cells. This groundbreaking study that was carried out by researchers affiliated with the Oregon State University was titled “Cannabinoids Block Cellular Entry of SARS-CoV-2 and the Emerging Variants.”
The COVID-19 pandemic that began in Wuhan, China in 2019 has not only led to the loss of millions of lives across the globe but has also derailed major economies. Scientists are working hard to find ways to halt the spread of the highly contagious infection. Mass vaccination is another approach that is being used to reduce the severity of COVID-19. The use of cannabinoids to stop COVID-19 is a new approach that looks promising, based on this study.
The researchers have found that cannabigerolic acid (CBGA) and cannabidiolic acid (CBDA) can prevent the COVID-19 virus from penetrating cells and hence causing infection by binding to the spike protein of the virus. This presents a new avenue to prevent and treat the disease that needs further exploration. Part of the abstract of the study reads:
“Orally bioavailable and with a long history of safe human use, these cannabinoids, isolated or in hemp extracts, have the potential to prevent as well as treat infection by SARS-CoV-2.”
The study was spearheaded by Richard van Breemen in collaboration with other scientists from the Oregon Health & Science University. The researchers found that the two non-psychoactive cannabinoids CBDA and CBGA can block new variants of the virus including variant B.1.1.7, first detected in the UK, and variant B.1.351, which was first detected in South Africa. The cannabinoids block the spike protein on the SARS-CoV-2 and prevent its entry into cells. This is a similar approach that is taken by other COVID-19 vaccines. Apart from the spike proteins, other accessory proteins are also potential targets for developing drugs to prevent COVID-19 infection, according to Breemen.
As much as this study is promising, further research is needed to validate the true potential of CBDA and CBGA in preventing COVID-19. The researchers also noted that the effectiveness of these cannabinoids needs to be demonstrated in other variants of the COVID-19 virus. According to the researchers:
“Resistant variants could still arise amid widespread use of cannabinoids but that the combination of vaccination and CBDA/CBGA treatment should make for a much more challenging environment for SARS-CoV-2.”