Pharmaceutical CBD could help prevent, treat COVID-19, UofL researchers say
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - A prescription product that comes from marijuana and hemp plants could help the fight against COVID-19, according to researchers at University of Louisville and other institutions.
Pharmaceutical CBD cannot be purchased at the store and does not contain THC, the element that makes users high. It was first tested at the University of Chicago as a potential treatment for COVID-19 to stop the second phase of infection involving the immune system.
What researchers found was better than expected, they said.
Patients using pharmaceutical CBD to treat epilepsy appeared to be less vulnerable to COVID-19, according to the study.
The University of Louisville wanted to verify the results with its own study.
Kenneth Palmer, professor and director of the Center for Predictive Medicine for Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases at UofL, and a team of researchers tested pharmaceutical CBD on human lung tissue and mice. The results showed the prescription CBD “somewhat” protected those treated from infection.
Palmer told WAVE News the CBD created a molecule that blocked the virus from spreading after it entered the cell.
“We found that there were lower viral loads which indicates there were lower viral replication in the nasal tissue and the lungs,” Palmer said.
The next likely step, Palmer said, is to launch a clinical trial to test the pharmaceutical CBD on humans. However, researchers need adequate funding to start designing the study.
It’s possible people who are especially vulnerable to the virus, or those whose immune systems did not respond as well to the vaccines could be included in the study, but that hasn’t been determined yet.
“There are a number of different populations you could test it on, but I think providing a solution for people who remain at risk for COVID infection is a big one,” Palmer said.
If researchers can fund the trial and the results are positive, they would select a commercial company to manufacture the high-purity CBD and seek FDA approval.
The study’s findings do not suggest consuming commercial CBD, which can be found at the store, is effective at treating COVID-19.
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