Researchers at Oregon State University discovered hemp chemicals that have the capacity to block the virus that causes COVID-19 from entering human cells.
The university claims that a pair of cannabinoid acids attach to the COVID-19 spike protein, preventing the virus from infecting people.
OSU said this “spike protein is the same drug target used in COVID-19 vaccines and antibody therapy.”
In order to infect a human, disease or virus must go through a specific process. A drug target is defined as any molecule essential to the process that can be disrupted to prevent infection or advancement.
“These cannabinoid acids are abundant in hemp and in many hemp extracts,” said Richard van Breemen, a researcher with Oregon State’s Global Hemp Innovation Center. “They are not controlled substances like THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, and they have a good safety profile in humans.”
According to Van Breemen, the research found that hemp chemicals were equally efficient against the alpha and beta versions of COVID-19.
“Our data shows CBDA and CBGA are effective against the two variants we looked at, and we hope that trend will extend to other existing and future variants,” Van Breemen said.
For van Breeman’s study, OSU created a chemical screening approach.
According to the university, the research team tested a variety of botanicals used as dietary supplements, including red clover, wild yam, hops, and three types of licorice.
“Cell entry inhibitors, like the acids from hemp, could be used to prevent SARS-CoV-2 infection and also to shorten infections by preventing virus particles from infecting human cells,” Van Breemen said, adding compounds that block virus-receptor interaction have been helpful for patients with other viral infections.