A new study has identified compounds in hemp that may have the ability to help prevent Covid-19.
A study by Oregon State University has revealed that the compounds cannabigerolic acid (CBGA) and cannabidiolic acid (CBDA), may have the ability to prevent the virus that causes Covid-19 from entering human cells.
The success of the hemp compounds was discovered through a chemical screening technique invented at the university.
Researchers and scientists, led by Richard van Breedan, found that a pair of cannabinoid acids bind to the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, blocking a step in the process the virus takes for infection.
Targeting compounds that block the virus-receptor interaction has been helpful for patients with other viral infections such as HIV-1 and hepatitis.
The researchers and scientists identified the two cannabinoid acids through a screening technique, developed previously in van Breeman’s laboratory. The team also screened different botanicals such as red clover, hops, wild yam and three types of liquorice.
In a statement, Van Breeman, author of the study said: “These cannabinoid acids are abundant in hemp and in many hemp extracts. They are not controlled substances like THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, and have a good safety profile in humans. And our research showed the hemp compounds were equally effective against variants of SARS-CoV-2, including variant B.1.1.7, which was first detected in the United Kingdom, and variant B.1.351, first detected in South Africa.”
The two variants tested were earlier Covid variants, named Alpha and Beta.
He added: “These compounds can be taken orally and have a long history of safe use in humans. They have the potential to prevent as well as treat infection by SARS-CoV-2. CBDA and CBGA are produced by the hemp plant as precursors to CBD and CBG, which are familiar to many consumers. However, they are different from the acids and are not contained in hemp products.”
“One of the primary concerns in the pandemic is the spread of variants, of which there are many, and B.1.1.7 and B.1.351 are among the most widespread and concerning.
“These variants are well known for evading antibodies against early lineage SARS-CoV-2, which is obviously concerning given that current vaccination strategies rely on the early lineage spike protein as an antigen. Our data show CBDA and CBGA are effective against the two variants we looked at, and we hope that trend will extend to other existing and future variants.”
Van Breeman stated that while variants may still occur, CBDA and CBGA may make it a more challenging environment when combined with vaccines.
The researchers noted that one of the liquorice compounds also stuck to the spike protein too, but more funding is needed to explore the possibilities.
Previous Covid research
Previous research on Covid-19 and cannabinoids has focused on the effect that CBD may have in repairing the scarring the disease causes in the lungs.
Patients with long Covid experience a cytokine storm which is an extreme inflammatory response. If the body releases too many cytokines into the system, it can lead to acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS).
This inflammation can lead to severe pneumonia making breathing difficult. Research has shown that CBD may reduce a number of the inflammatory cytokines associated with Covid such as IL-6 or interleukin (IL)-2.
A pre-Covid study on asthma also showed that CBD could potentially reduce cytokine production making it easier for them to breathe. The same study also revealed that it had an effect on pulmonary fibrosis which is a thickening of the blood vessels and scarring leading to long term breathing complications.
What is CBGA and CBDA?
There are a lot of different cannabinoids found in hemp. CBD is just one which has become popular in recent years although CBG is now also being added to products.
Cannabigerol is one of the cannabinoids found in cannabis. It is sometimes referred to as ‘the mother of all cannabinoids’ because it is the precursor to CBD. Other cannabinoids are derived from cannabigerolic acid (CBGA), an acidic form of CBG.
There is very little CBG in plants often as low as one per cent so it makes CBG more expensive than CBD products. CBD is much more available in plants at 20 to 25 per cent. CBG tends to be made from younger plants which contain a higher percentage. THC and CBD both begin life as CBGA before maturing and THC goes on to become CBN in older plants.
It is thought to work the same as CBD in that it interacts with our endocannabinoid system via receptors that are found all over the body. In particular, it may bind to the CB1 receptors in our nervous system or CB2 receptors in our immune system.
It is thought to potentially strengthen the function of anandamide which is a neurotransmitter that affects our pleasure and motivation. It also regulates appetite, sleep and pain relief.
CBDA is the precursor to CBD. It is present in small amounts in the plant. Once CBDA is formed, it is converted to CBD through thermal decarboxylation. It is thought to be a powerful antioxidant and could help nausea and anxiety.
UK doctors present “leading” research on medical cannabis
Doctors from Sapphire Clinics will present 20 pieces of research to the International Cannabinoid Research Society.
Doctors from Sapphire Medical Clinic will present major findings on medical cannabis at an international conference this weekend.
Since 2018 doctors in the UK have been prescribing medical cannabis for several conditions, such as chronic pain, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Whilst an increasing number of patients are now receiving therapy, a critical barrier to access is a lack of the right evidence to enable the NHS to fund medical cannabis.
However, thanks to the efforts of doctors and scientists the UK is now leading the way in medical cannabis research.
On Saturday 25 June, doctors from Sapphire Medical Clinics will present 20 individual pieces of research at the annual International Cannabinoid Research Society (ICRS) Annual Conference in Galway, Ireland.
In this they will describe the outcomes and safety of medical cannabis therapy in patients with a wide spectrum of disorders, including, but not limited to, chronic pain, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, insomnia, and childhood epilepsy.
Within this plethora of research, they will present data from the largest bespoke medical cannabis registry in Europe, the UK Medical Cannabis Registry, which has now enrolled over 5,000 patients.
This latest analysis reports the outcomes of nearly 2,833 patients with a range of conditions for which medical cannabis was prescribed since 2019.
The conditions included chronic non-cancer pain, anxiety, fibromyalgia, and neuropathic pain. The average age of the patients was 42 years and 43 per cent were women. The patients were assessed across a variety of validated metrics to assess changes in health at one, three, six and 12 months.
The researchers report: “This study, the largest observational series of patients prescribed cannabis-based medicinal products in the UK, demonstrates an association with improved general health-related quality of life up to 12 months.
In addition, specific improvements in generalised anxiety and sleep quality were also observed. The majority of adverse events were mild and moderate.”
They added: “Whilst randomised controlled trials are essential to determine causality, this study helps inform current clinical practice and future trials, whilst also being a fundamental component of pharmacovigilance.”
Apart from pain, the researchers presented other studies looking at medical cannabis for the treatment of palliative care, headache disorders, insomnia, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and inflammatory bowel disease.
Commenting on the findings, Dr Simon Erridge, head of research and access at Sapphire Medical Clinics, said: “Medical cannabis is not a panacea, and not all patients respond to therapy.
“However, we do know from the latest review of the literature published in the British Medical Journal of medical cannabis oils in chronic pain that they produce, on average, a 10 per cent improvement in pain scores in patients. That may not sound a lot – but for patients where nothing else has helped, this reduction in pain is greatly valued.”
He added: “The research we are presenting at ICRS is very complementary to existing studies and helps us to further understand the long-term effects of therapy. Most notably we have demonstrated both condition-specific and overall improvements to health-related quality of life. These outcomes are reported by patients and directly reflect changes they experience in day-to-day life.”
The research also showed that alongside patients who were new to cannabis, those who had previously been accessing it illicitly also reported improvements.
Dr Erridge continued: “Another very interesting finding that we have demonstrated through sub-group analysis is that in addition to patients who were naïve to cannabis having an overall improvement as a group, a similar effect size was also seen in those previously accessing illicit cannabis. This suggests that the quality and consistency of medical cannabis prescribed by a trained professional is an important facet of cannabis-based therapy.”
He described the UK as a “leader” in medical cannabis research, but went onto highlight the need for national bodies to fund more randomised control trials alongside real-world evidence.
He added: “We are pleased that through collecting, analysing, and publishing this data we are playing our part in ensuring the UK is a leader in medical cannabis research. However, randomised controlled trials are still necessary.
“For the UK to remain on the front foot it is important that funding bodies, such as the National Institute for Health Research, recognise the promising signals we present in our research and the potential impact these may have through committing funding towards further randomised controlled trials.”
“In the meantime, we will continue to publish the promising real-world effects seen in UK patients.”
Largest ever cannabinoid trial on pain finds significant improvement
All formulations in the trial led to “clinically meaningful” improvements in pain after just 4 weeks.
Results have been released from what is claimed to be the largest ever randomised blinded clinical trial on cannabinoids and pain.
Results from a large-sale cannabinoid trial demonstrated “clinically meaningful” improvements in pain across the different formulations of CBD and rare cannabinoids studied.
Claimed to be history’s largest clinical trial on cannabinoids and pain, Radicle Science – an AI-driven healthtech firm – worked in partnership with cannabinoid manufacturer and distributor Open Book Extracts (OBX) to complete the study.
Involving more than 1600 participants from across the US, the companies said the study is the first of its kind to examine the synergistic impact of rare cannabinoids like Cannabichromene (CBC) and Cannabigerol (CBG) on pain.
All of the enhanced product formulations included in this clinical trial led to statistically significant improvements in pain, anxiety, sleep quality and overall quality of life. On average, nearly half (44.8 per cent) of participants who received any of the enhanced products experienced a clinically meaningful improvement in their pain, meaning they realised a distinct and palpable improvement in their quality of life through improved pain symptoms.
The trial was specifically designed to examine if adding other ingredients to a formulation in conjunction with CBD could lead to better outcomes than with CBD alone. The trial included 6 product arms, which all contained CBD at 40 mg per serving. Most arms also contained varying levels of rare cannabinoids, including CBG and CBC.
Overall, the formulations performed roughly the same for the improvement of pain, anxiety, sleep quality and quality of life. However, for people with moderate pain, there was evidence that the addition of 20mg CBC to a formulation containing 40mg of CBD could significantly improve its pain-relieving effects—particularly when this enhanced product was taken for two or more weeks.
“It’s a privilege to make history with OBX,” said Dr Jeff Chen, Radicle Science’s CEO and UCLA Cannabis Research Initiative’s founder. “Rare cannabinoids are present in a variety of health and wellness products containing cannabis and hemp, but there has been virtually no clinical data on their effectiveness for any medical condition, including pain.
“Radicle Science assessed for the first time in history the potential synergistic effects of certain rare cannabinoids on pain and demonstrated that these natural products can make a measurable positive impact.”
A diverse sample of 1629 pain sufferers from across the US were randomised to take one of the six product formulations for a month while reporting their pain relative to specific benchmarks that included severity, general activity, sleep quality, anxiety symptoms and overall quality of life.
All products tested were deemed safe to consume and only about 1 in 10 participants reported side effects, none of which were deemed severe.
“While existing studies suggest that cannabidiol and rare cannabinoids, including CBG and CBC, have considerable potential to support wellness, there has been a glaring gap in scientifically valid research dedicated to guiding effective product development,” said OBX CEO Dave Neundorfer.
“That’s why we collaborated with the renowned medical experts and data scientists at Radicle Science to better understand the potential of rare cannabinoids as an ingredient and, in particular, their ability to support better quality of life outcomes relating to pain.”
Radicle Science and OBX said they will continue their partnership with similar large-scale randomised controlled clinical trials on rare cannabinoids, including THCV, CBN, CBG and CBC. Radicle will be studying their effects on other health and lifestyle benchmarks, such as energy, focus, appetite, sleep disturbance, stress and anxiety, across thousands of study participants.
Pelin Thorogood, Radicle Science Co-founder and Executive Chair added: “It was promising to see that the addition of a rare cannabinoid could augment the effects of CBD.
“We will be further exploring the entourage effect with an upcoming study, Radicle Spectrum, which will be the first head-to-head study comparing full or broad-spectrum CBD to isolate and placebo. It is our hope this study will provide data to help the FDA ascertain whether CBD isolate is a drug.”
Success for early trial exploring CBD treatment for epilepsy in dogs
A top professor at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem believes the CBD formulation holds “immense potential”.
An early study looking at the potential of CBD as a treatment for epilepsy in dogs has produced promising results.
A small-scale efficacy trial in dogs with refractory (drug-resistant) epilepsy has produced positive results, showing that dogs had a decrease in the frequency of their epileptic seizures after taking CBD.
Innocan Pharma Corporation announced the successful preliminary results this week. In the initial phase of research, the dogs were treated with Innocan Pharma’s LPT (CBD Loaded Liposome Platform) injection, a unique CBD drug delivery platform. The trial is one of several ongoing studies that test the liposome platform on a range of potential conditions.
The experiments have demonstrated initial positive results, validating the viability of Innocan’s intention to make CBD available to humans and animals for extended periods upon a single dosage.
Innocan’s unique delivery method allows for the controlled release of CBD into the bloodstream with improved pharmacokinetic performance. By administering CBD encapsulated in liposomes, the scientists seek to achieve long-lasting and significant levels of CBD in the body, which the company believes will create a far more effective and continuous therapeutic effect.
The research was conducted in collaboration with the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and indicates the potential for the company’s technology to effectively deliver cannabinoids to the bloodstream.
Professor Chezy Barenholz of The Hebrew University said: “My lab is proud to be paving the way to what may be a veterinary world that infuses CBD on a regular basis. We take pride in our co-operation with Innocan Pharma that I believe holds immense potential.
“Innocan Pharma may be achieving sectoral leadership with our new results,” said Iris Bincovich, CEO of Innocan and added, “We are on the track to transitioning into later stages of drug development and these results will be crucial in determining the path ahead.”
The global animal healthcare market revenue was valued at US$141.2 billion in 2021 and is forecasted to reach US$181.7 billion by 2028. Studies suggest that the major factors driving the Animal Healthcare Market include the growing importance of animal health to pet owners.
Innocan is a pharmaceutical technology company that focuses on the development of several drug delivery platforms containing CBD. Ramot at Tel Aviv University is currently collaborating with the company on a new, “revolutionary” exosome-based technology that targets both central nervous system indications and the Covid-19 Corona Virus using CBD.
The product is expected to be administered by inhalation and be tested against a variety of lung infections.
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