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How high-CBD cannabis extracts could treat Covid-19

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The study used artificial 3D human models to evaluate the effect of CBD

The anti-inflammatory properties of CBD could potentially be used to prevent and treat Covid-19, according to a new study. 

Researchers reported that cannabis sativa, especially extracts high in the anti-inflammatory CBD, has been found to alter gene expression and inflammation and harbour anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties

Working under a Health Canada research license, the authors of Aging-US developed over 800 new cannabis sativa cultivars and hypothesised that high-CBD Cannabis sativa extracts may be used to reduce ACE2 expression in target COVID-19 tissues.

ACE2 is a protein found on the surface of many cell types, which acts as the receptor for the coronavirus and allows it to infect the cell. 

Using artificial 3D human models of oral, airway and intestinal tissues, they identified 13 high-CBD extracts that decrease ACE2 protein levels.

Some Cannabis sativa extracts also suppressed serine protease TMPRSS2, another critical protein.

The study is important for future analyses of the effects of medical cannabis on COVID-19

The extracts of the researcher’s most successful novel high-CBD Cannabis sativa lines, pending further investigation, may become a useful and safe addition to the prevention and treatment of COVID-19 alongside other therapies. 

Similar to other respiratory pathogens, COVID-19 is transmitted through respiratory droplets from coughing and sneezing. 

However, aerosol transmission and close-contact transmission cannot be ruled out as means of disease spread.

ACE2 is expressed in oral mucosa and enriched in the epithelial cells of the tongue.

High levels of ACE2 expression in oral epithelial tissues suggests that the oral cavity could be highly susceptible to coronavirus infection, making them an important target for prevention strategies.

Similarly, numerous studies have reported high levels of ACE2 in the lower respiratory tract. 

Higher levels of ACE2 expression, such as those seen in smokers and patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, are associated with higher COVID-19 predisposition and enhanced disease severity.

The research team, led by Dr Olga Kovalchuk and Dr Igor Kovalchuk, concluded: “While our most efficacious extracts require further validation through large-scale analyses, our study is important for future analyses of the effects of medical cannabis on COVID-19. 

“Given the current dire and rapidly developing epidemiological situation, every possible therapeutic opportunity needs to be considered and researched.”

The study was published in Aging-US

Sarah Sinclair is a respected cannabis journalist writing on subjects related to science, medicine, research, health and wellness. She is managing editor of Cannabis Health, the UK’s leading title covering medical cannabis and CBD, and sister title and Psychedelic Health. Sarah has an NCTJ journalism qualification and an MA in Journalism from the University of Sunderland. Sarah has over six years experience working on newspapers, magazines and digital-first titles, the last two of which have been in the cannabis sector. She has also completed training through the Medical Cannabis Clinicians Society securing a certificate in Medical Cannabis Explained. She is a member of PLEA’s (Patient-Led Engagement for Access) advisory board, has hosted several webinars on cannabis and women's health and has moderated at industry events such as Cannabis Europa. Sarah Sinclair is the editor of Cannabis Health. Got a story? Email sarah@prohibitionpartners.com / Follow us on Twitter: @CannabisHNews / Instagram: @cannabishealthmag

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