Could hemp help prevent infection or treat COVID-19? Research at Oregon State University shows potential.
Richard van Breemen, a researcher in Oregon State’s Global Hemp Innovation Center, College of Pharmacy and Linus Pauling Institute has identified two hemp compounds that may prevent the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 from infecting human cells.
Using a mass spectrometry-based screening technique that was invented at Oregon State, van Breemen, OSU colleague Ruth Muchiri and five collaborators from Oregon Health & Science University found that a pair of cannabinoids — cannabigerolic acid (CBGA) and cannabidiolic acid (CBDA) — bind to the coronavirus spike protein, blocking a critical step in the infection process.
Hemp is a rich source of unique natural products that have therapeutic value. Unlike other cannabinoids that have psychoactive properties, the CBGA and CBDA compounds are not controlled substances and have a good safety profile in humans, van Breemen says, and they also have potential to prevent as well as treat COVID-19 infections.
van Breemen expects preclinical trials will happen within a few months. He says preclinical trials, required by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration before any clinical testing in humans can begin, involve using cell cultures and/or animal models to test the safety and efficacy of a new drug candidate.
COVID-19 hasn’t been beaten yet. But the discoveries made at Oregon State could be an effective tool in the fight.