Researchers at the University of Lethbridge say they have been collecting data over the past four years that show promise that some cannabis extracts may help in the prevention and treatment of COVID-19. This is based on a study in April that showed at least 13 cannabis plants were high in CBD (Cannabidiol) that appeared to affect the ACE2 (Angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 gene) pathways that the virus uses to access the body.
Olga and Igor Kovalchuk have been working with cannabis since 2015, according to CTV News. They have been using varieties from around the world to create new hybrids and develop extracts that demonstrate certain therapeutic properties.
“There’s a lot of documented information about cannabis in cancer, cannabis in inflammation, anxiety, obesity, and what not,” Igor said. “When COVID-19 started, Olga had the idea to revisit our data, and see if we can utilize it for COVID.”
“It was like a joker card, you know, coronavirus. It just mixes up everybody’s plans,” Olga said. “We were totally stunned at first, and then we were really happy.”
The results of their research have been printed in online journal Preprints. The report has indicated hemp extracts high in CBD may help block proteins that provide a “gateway” for COVID-19 to enter host cells.
Igor has suggested that cannabis could reduce the virus’s entry points by up to 70%. “Therefore, you have more chance to fight it,” he told CTV.
Although more research is needed, the study gave hope that the cannabis “may prove a plausible strategy for decreasing disease susceptibility” as well as “become a useful and safe addition to the treatment of COVID-19 as an adjunct therapy.”
The study was done in partnership with Pathway Rx, a cannabis therapy research company, and Swysh Inc., a cannabinoid-based research company.
The researchers are seeking funding to continue their efforts to support scientific initiatives to address COVID-19.