LETHBRIDGE, Alberta – Researchers at the University of Lethbridge (ULeth), located in Alberta, Canada, recently published in peer journal Preprints, the results from a non peer-reviewed, preclinical study titled “In Search of Preventative Strategies: Novel Anti-Inflammatory High-CBD Cannabis Sativa Extracts Modulate ACE2 Expression in COVID-19 Gateway Tissues.” Study results indicated hemp extracts high in CBD may help block proteins that provide a “gateway” for COVID-19 to enter host cells.
“Angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) has been generally accepted by the scientific community as a receptor required for the entry of SARS-CoV-2 into human cells,” said study author Dr. Igor Kovalchuk in a press release.
“Our initial findings warrant further investigation but it’s possible that medical cannabis products could become a safe adjunct therapy for the treatment of COVID-19,” Dr. Kovalchuk added.
Dr. Igor Kovalchuk is chief executive officer at Pathway Rx and holder of a Health Canada License for cannabis research. He and Dr. Olga Kovalchuk are both ULeth biology professors and study authors.
Researchers speculated that effects observed in the study might be related to reputed anti-inflammatory properties of high CBD extract. Tests were conducted on “artificial human 3D models of oral, airway, and intestinal tissues.”
“While our most successful extracts require further validation in a large-scale analysis and an animal model, our study is crucial for the future analysis of the effects of medical cannabis on COVID-19,” Dr. Kovalchuk told the ULeth News website.
“Given the current dire and rapidly developing epidemiological situation, every possible therapeutic opportunity and avenue needs to be considered,” he continued. “Our research team is actively pursuing partnerships to conduct clinical trials.”
Pathway Rx said of the 1,000 high CBD Cannabis sativa plants that were extracted, only a few showed desired medicinal properties. Those strains were licensed to partner Sundial Growers, Inc. and are currently under production.
Pathway Rx has actively been seeking funding and partners for more research into cannabinoid-based formulations to treat coronavirus. The company recently secured $1.1 billion CAD from the Canadian government to support scientific initiatives related to COVID-19.
“The Government of Canada’s latest investment to support the health of Canadians creates a significant opportunity for Pathway Rx to advance our research and accelerate the development of custom therapies and products to help combat COVID-19,” said Dr. Kovalchuk.
A second research study that examines the use of cannabis extracts for taming the cytokine storm (a severe autoimmune condition that has been linked with some cases of coronavirus) will be published soon, Pathway Rx said.