UW study shows CBD may help protect cells against COVID-19
Researchers at the University of Waterloo say synthetic cannabidiol (or CBD) may offer protection against viruses like COVID-19.
In a recent study using human kidney cells, a team of investigators found pure pharmaceutical grade CBD protected the cells from further spread of COVID-19.
According to lead researcher Robin Duncan, human cells normally have an immediate immune recognition process when they encounter a virus.
“The cells recognize them and respond to them, and when cells are better at doing that they can die,” said Duncan, a professor in the University of Waterloo's Department of Kinesiology and Health Sciences. “And as a result clear away that virus and you might not even know you were infected.”
But according to Duncan, “what we were seeing with specific COVID-19 proteins was that the cells hardly noticed they were there at all allowing the virus to continue spreading to other cells.”
However, when UW researchers added CBD to the kidney cells the immune recognition to COVID-19 was “the response was much larger, much faster, and it suggested the cell’s ability to recognize.”
"When I got my first data, I was like 'oh my god'," added Maria Fernandes, a UW post doctorate fellow who performed the cell studies. "We were so excited to see the immune system was actually activated by CBD and making the cells protect themselves from infecting all the healthy ones."
Furthermore, Duncan noted her team added therapeutic amounts CBD to cells that were not exposed to COVID-19, and the CBD appeared to have ‘primed’ the cells immunity response without the cell dying.
“We are seeing an increased preparedness for the event of a virus, and this is very exciting to us,” added Duncan. “There is potential to be used not just for COVID, but other potential viruses.
Duncan stressed this is not a cure for COVID-19, and no research has been done yet on humans.
According to Duncan, the UW research team is in talks with the Public Health Agency of Canada and biosafety level four lab in Winnipeg about the possibility of testing their CBD research on mice.
Duncan also said they are also working with a small Canadian pharmaceutical start up “and hopefully moving this toward clinical trials.”
The UW team used a researched source of CBD that is ultra-pure, and not available for purchase in Canada.
“This really isn’t something people should go out and do and try themselves right now,” warned Duncan.