Cannabis Plant Extracts Could Protect Against COVID-19

Researchers in Canada have conducted a study suggesting that novel Cannabis sativa extracts may decrease levels of the host receptor that SARS-CoV-2 uses to gain viral entry to target tissues. The team of researchers from the University of Lethbridge and Pathway Rx Inc. developed many new C. Sativa cultivars and tested 23 extracts in artificial 3-D human models of oral, intestinal and airway tissues.

Around 13 extracts down-regulated expression of the SARS-CoV-2 host cell receptor ACE2. ACE2 expression in oral epithelial tissues is an important target for prevention strategies. In the model of airway tissues that had not been stimulated by inflammation, western blot analysis identified 6 extracts that significantly downregulated the expression of ACE2 and 2 extracts that slightly up-regulated its expression. In a model of oral tissue that had been stimulated by treatment with inflammatory cytokines tumour necrosis factor-α and interferon-ϒ.

RNA sequencing analysis revealed that tumour necrosis factor-α and interferon-ϒ up-regulated mRNA levels of ACE2 in the oral tissue. However, all cannabis extracts but one downregulated the expression of this altered ACE2 mRNA level. In a model of inflammation-stimulated 3D intestinal tissues, two extracts significantly down-regulated ACE2 mRNA levels and the model of stimulated airway tissues, all of the extracts attenuated the induced ACE2 expression.

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