Israeli scientists have launched clinical trials into whether cannabis can play an effective role in stopping or slowing the coronavirus. Though lung health experts have warned smoking marijuana could exacerbate COVID-19 and its spread, Israeli scientists will study cannabidiol (CBD) alongside existing treatment options as a possible solution.
Tests at Rabin Medical Centre in Petah Tikva will be led by partnerships with Stero Biotech, an Israeli CBD company, and Clalit, Israel’s largest HMO.
So far, researchers are investigating three treatment candidates.
InnoCan Pharma announced a collaboration with Tel Aviv University to instil CBD medicine through exosomes – the small cell structures created when stem cells multiply.
The unconventional method will utilise the exosomes as ‘homing missiles,’ as they can uniquely target cell organs damaged by Covid-19.
Researchers then believe CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties will repair the damaged cells through a synergistic effect.
However, health experts have warned smoking marihuana could have the opposite effect, and make the condition worse.
As COVID-19 attacks the respiratory system, scientists will have patients receive CBD-enriched exosomes through an inhalation device. Previous studies have shown CBD can help regulate the body’s immune system and reduce inflammation throughout the body.
Another study will combine CBD with steroids as a treatment for those with COVID-19 and includes 10 Covid-19 patients currently undergoing treatment in Israel’s Rabin Medical Center. Doctors will combine traditional steroids and CBD, with the belief CBD will enhance the therapeutic potential of the steroids. The trial, conducted by Stero Biotechs in collaboration with Mor Research Application, already has plans to expand treatment to 40 additional patients should it prove successful.
“We estimate that our CBD-based treatment can enhance the current treatment of those patients who are in life-threatening conditions,” said David Bass, Stero Biotech’s founder and CEO, in a statement.
“Hospitalised Covid-19 patients are mostly being treated with steroids, and our study is planned to demonstrate the benefit of a combined solution with steroid treatments.”
A third study, launched by Tel Aviv’s Ichilov Medical Center, will investigate whether CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties could lower respiratory symptoms experienced in moderate COVID-19 patients.
Dr Barak Cohen, one of the researchers behind the study says, “this is a novel approach to treating some of the symptoms, using a component of the cannabis plant that is considered safe and non-addictive.”