Update: Researchers Are Looking At Cannabis As A Potential Way To Prevent COVID-19

UPDATED 5th July 2020 |. COMMENTARY FROM MEDICAL JOURNAL (click this link for full article and commentary)

Commenter: Amanda Mealer-McArtor

The commenter has declared there is no conflict of interests.

Comment: Looking at the results, it is incorrect to state that the effects seen on protein expression were due to THC or CBD, as opposed to other components in the Sativa extract. The 3 lines that demonstrated significantly lower ACE2 protein levels in both oral and intestinal models (#1, 7, 169) were at different ends of the spectrum for CBD and THC percentages and ratios. All 3 had about the same percentage of THC (which appeared about mid-range of all samples), but #1 & 7 had 6.8% & 7.2% CBD respectively, while #169 had 1.9%. As far as THC:CBD ratios, #1 & 7 were 1:27 & 1:34 respectively, while #169 was 1:9.

Given that these lines, with much different CBD compositions, are the only ones w/significantly less ACE2 protein in oral & intestinal models, it makes a strong argument that it is something other than the CBD or THC responsible for the observed effects. So it is misleading to imply CBD caused the results, rather than the full extract itself.

Additionally, as pointed out by the authors, certain lines caused INCREASED expression of ACE2. In theory, this would imply that these other lines would be HARMFUL if taken for COVID. This point should have been more prominent in the paper, bc I fear at face-value, people will take this study to mean that any sativa plant has potential to help, w/o being aware some may actually do harm.

Another finding not discussed by the authors was that totally different lines caused decreased levels of ACE2 protein in respiratory cells (#5, 10, 31) versus intestinal/oral cells (#1, 7, 169). What is concerning about the data presented is that oral/intestinal models’ results of lines 5, 10, and 31 were not shown. And respiratory model data for lines 1 and 7 was not shown. It would be important to know whether they have increased amounts of ACE2 protein in the models not shown.

Seeing that the hypothesis was based on CBD being responsible for decreasing ACE2 protein, and the results indicated it was not likely due to CBD alone, future research should be directed at comparing different strains of Cannabis.

Two Canadian researchers think that a special strain of cannabis might potentially be a valuable tool in the fight against COVID-19.

The researchers, Olga and Igor Kovalchuck have reportedly been developing and testing a novel cannabis strain for years, except with the goal of creating a strain that helps to combat cancer and inflammation. When the pandemic hit, the duo started to focus their efforts on how the strain might be used to help fight COVID-19.

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The duo’s work was published in an April issue of the online medical journal Preprints.

“Similar to other respiratory pathogens, SARS-CoV2 is transmitted through respiratory droplets, with potential for aerosol and contact spread. It uses receptor-mediated entry into the human host via angiotensin-converting enzyme II (ACE2) that is expressed in lung tissue, as well as oral and nasal mucosa, kidney, testes, and the gastrointestinal tract,” reads the study. “Modulation of ACE2 levels in these gateway tissues may prove a plausible strategy for decreasing disease susceptibility.”Most Popular In: Vices

After looking at the research done on cannabis and COVID by other scientists, they were able to determine that cannabis, a special strain in particular, could potentially block COVID-19 from entering a person’s body to begin with.

It all comes down to our body’s ACE2 receptors, which works sort of like doorways into our bodies for the virus. In the case of the Kovalchuck’s work, cannabis would be used to decrease the level of ACE2 gene expression, essentially temporarily closing the doors to the virus.

Beyond that, it’s also possible that the strain could be used to prevent the virus from being able to propagate once it’s already entered someone’s system.

“Cannabis sativa, especially one high in the anti-inflammatory cannabinoid cannabidiol (CBD), has been proposed to modulate gene expression and inflammation and harbour anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties,” the study says. “Working under the Health Canada research license, we have developed over 800 new Cannabis sativa lines and extracts and hypothesized that high-CBD C. sativa extracts may be used to modulate ACE2 expression in COVID-19 target tissues.” 

Right now it’s still a theory rather than a confirmed fact; however, it offers some hope for the future. If they’re able to prove the idea, the next step would be to manufacture the successful strain into medical formations that could be used for prevention and treatment by the medical field. That’s to say you’re probably not going to be buying a random joint at your local dispensary that will prevent the virus.

The couple is also quick to point out that just like your high, not every strain of cannabis is going to impact you in the same way. While it’s possible that they will be able to find a strain that can help prevent or treat COVID-19, there are also strains that could potentially make it worse. There’s no one-size-fits-all fix.

“While our most effective extracts require further large-scale validation, our study is crucial for the future analysis of the effects of medical cannabis on COVID-19. The extracts of our most successful and novel high CBD C. sativa lines, pending further investigation, may become a useful and safe addition to the treatment of COVID-19 as an adjunct therapy,” the study says. “They can be used to develop easy-to-use preventative treatments in the form of mouthwash and throat gargle products for both clinical and at-home use. Such products ought to be tested for their potential to decrease viral entry via the oral mucosa. Given the current dire and rapidly evolving epidemiological situation, every possible therapeutic opportunity and avenue must be considered.”Follow me on Twitter

Check out some of her other work here

Emily Price

For the Full article and thanks please click the following link: https://www.forbes.com/sites/emilyprice/2020/06/27/researchers-are-looking-at-cannabis-as-a-potential-way-to-prevent-covid-19/#62394cf5d885

The Hemp Club specialise in impartial news and advice dedicated to the industrial hemp and cannabis industry with a focus on Regulatory Compliance.  We have been passionate about hemp and cannabis for more than 20 years, working in an advisory role and building a beyond organic sustainable future with like-minded people is our vision.

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