Israeli researchers will utilize antiviral agents found in cannabis terpenes to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.
When you smell marijuana, what you’re actually smelling is terpenes. These organic compounds create aroma in all plants, and each cannabis strain contains its own set of terpenes. This is why your stashes of marijuana smell different, even if they share the same general perfume. Similar to cannabinoids like THC and CBD, terpenes bond with your endocannabinoids and deliver therapeutic effects to your system.
This isn’t the first research to investigate how terpenes impact a coronavirus. In a 2007 study, Chinese scientists found that different sets of terpenes reduced the severity and spread of the SARS coronavirus in-vitro and in-vivo — or, in both a laboratory petri dish and live organisms. The plant compounds blocked a specific protein that allows the virus to replicate itself throughout the body.
Israeli researchers plan to build upon that research and develop a novel terpene combination to use in COVID-19 treatment. Cannabis research company CannaSoul Analytics and Israeli entrepreneur Nadav Eyal will collaborate on the venture. Their formulation will be administered through direct inhalation.
“Our lab has been approved to operate as a corona lab, and in doing so, we are promoting 2 studies based on existing cannabis studies: First, we will try to identify the plant’s own molecules that are capable of suppressing the immune response to the COVID-19 coronavirus, which causes inflammation and severe disease,” Dedi Meiri, Cannasoul Chairman and Asst. Professor at the Israel Institute of Technology, said in a statement. “To lower the immune system response without suppressing it, thereby providing better complementary treatment to the steroids, which completely suppress the immune system.”
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Another study will explore with how these cannabis compounds affect the ACE2 receptor. This specific receptor, copious within cells in the respiratory system, is what triggers the coronavirus to enter cells and spread accordingly.
“There is a process that examines the effect of cannabis molecules on proteins as well and we are now examining which ones are relevant to the same receptor, with the goal of reducing its expression, making it difficult for the virus to enter the cell and proliferate,” Meiri added.
Other Israeli scientists have begun research into what role CBD could play in COVID-19 treatment. While Meiri and his team will explore terpenes as antiviral agents, the clinical trial will utilize CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties to reduce symptoms and regulate the body’s immune system.