A chemical found in living cannabis plants may help protect human cells from coronavirus infection, research suggests.
A study conducted by scientists at Oregon State University (OSU) and Oregon Health & Science University found that two acids present in hemp, a type of hemp plant, are widely used in clothing, paper, and as medicine. Turns out, were able to jam the gears of the virus. what causes covid-19
The researchers said the two compounds can bind to the SARS-Cov-2 virus’s spike protein, which it uses to invade and commandeer human cells and that gives the coronavirus family its name.
However, the compounds cannot be consumed through any of the traditional methods of taking cannabis as medicine, meaning they would have to be harvested separately to make a specific drug.
“These cannabinoid acids are abundant in hemp and many hemp extracts,” said lead author Richard van Breemann of OSU’s Global Hemp Innovation Center.
“They are not a controlled substance like THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, and have a good safety profile in humans. And our research showed that the hemp compound was equally effective against variants of SARS-Cov-2.”
The study, published Monday in the peer-reviewed Journal of Natural Products, examined extracts of several plants such as red clover, wild yam, hops and licorice for possible affinity with the COVID spike protein.
A spike protein is a microscopic structure derived from the body of a virus, containing chemical receptor sites that have evolved to bind on the exterior of human cells. If another chemical binds to those receptors, it can block them, rendering them useless.
The two compounds that worked best were cannabigerolic acid, known as CBG-A, and cannabidiolic acid, known as CBD-A, both precursors of better known chemicals in cannabis drugs. .
The former is only present when the cannabis plant is growing, while the latter is converted into CBD, one of the key ingredients in recreational and medicinal cannabis, through burning, steaming or baking.
The chemicals worked well against both the alpha and beta forms of the coronavirus, raising the possibility that they might also work against omicrons and other mutations.
“Our data shows that CBDA and CBGA are effective against the two types that we observed, and we expect the trend to extend to other current and future versions,” said Mr. van Breemann.