The rapid spread of COVID-19 has made researchers seek for alternate treatments, including the use of existing medications. Medical cannabis is a significant medication that is touted for COVID 19, but although preliminary studies are promising, it needs more studies to be considered safe and effective.
Current research on cannabis as a COVID-19 treatment
Since cannabis is still illegal at the federal level, it’s challenging to conduct research in the US, which means there aren’t any studies that link cannabis and COVID 19. But during the last couple of weeks, the University of Miami researchers began an examination into how COVID 19 impacts American cannabis users during the peak of the outbreak.
According to Denise C. Vidot, an assistant professor in the School of Nursing and Health Studies and a trained epidemiologist, “The global qualifying conditions for medical cannabis mostly involve people with defective immune systems and other chronic disorders.”
A recent partnership made between cannabis research companies Pathway RX and Swysh Inc. and the University of Lethbridge in Alberta, Canada, discovered some compounds of Cannabis sativa could be viable in preventing infection with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that leads to COVID-19.
Detailly, it was discovered that the extracts affect the expression of ACE2 and TMPRSS2, proteins in human cells that are tipped to be the gateway for the virus. Nonetheless, this recent research has not been published or peer-reviewed.
According to an early pre-publication version of the study, the researchers stated that “While the most effective extracts require further large-scale validation, this study is essential for the future analysis of the effects of medical cannabis on COVID-19,”. They also said that “the extracts of our most successful and novel high CBD [cannabidiol] C. sativa lines, in need of further examination, maybe a useful and safe addition to the treatment of COVID-19 as an adjunct therapy.”
They added that their extracts could be effective in a mouthwash or “throat gargle” to stop the spread of COVID-19.
Another Canadian research team led by Tetra Bio-Pharma, a Canadian-based biopharmaceutical company, is hoping to get sufficient funds to progress its COVID-19 program in Canada and the US. Their research will mostly be based on examining the active molecule in their synthetic cannabinoid drug PPP003, hoping that it can lessen the inflammation and immune system overactivity that can lead to sepsis, thus facilitating better medical results.
According to a statement from the company, “Cannabinoids that act at CB2R [the type 2 cannabinoid receptor] are showing viability in lessening the acute inflammatory reaction in experimental sepsis, which could be useful in patients with SARS-CoV-2,”. They also added that there is a need for more designed clinical trials of PPP003 to prove the drug’s effectiveness to prevent symptoms of the acute lung injury and the increased immune reaction observed in some patients following SARS-CoV-2 infection.
A similar study was also launched in Israel by InnoCan Pharma Ltd, an Israeli pharmaceutical company based on cannabis therapies. It recently declared a partnership with Tel Aviv University to develop a possible cell therapy treatment that utilizes “CBD-loaded exosomes” for the treatment of people with COVID-19.