Cape Town – New research at Oregon State University (OSU) has found that hemp compounds, identified via a chemical screening technique invented at the institution, show the ability to prevent the virus that causes Covid-19 from entering human cells.
Hemp, known scientifically as Cannabis sativa, is a source of fibre, food and animal feed, and multiple hemp extracts and compounds are added to cosmetics, body lotions, dietary supplements and food.
Findings of the study led by Richard van Breemen, a researcher with Oregon State’s Global Hemp Innovation Centre, College of Pharmacy and Linus Pauling Institute, were published recently in the Journal of Natural Products.
Van Breemen and collaborators, including scientists at Oregon Health & Science University, found that a pair of cannabinoid acids bind to the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, blocking a critical step in the process the virus uses to infect people, according to a statement.
According to the findings by the university, the compounds are cannabigerolic acid, or CBGA, and cannabidiolic acid, CBDA, and the spike protein is the same drug target used in Covid-19 vaccines and antibody therapy.
A drug target is any molecule critical to the process a disease follows, meaning its disruption can thwart infection or disease progression.
According to researchers, these cannabinoid acids are abundant in hemp and in many hemp extracts.
Van Breemen said 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 by South African scientists in November.