Researchers in Israel are investigating the potential for cannabis-derived products to treat patients with COVID-19. So far, researchers in the country are investigating three treatment candidates.
The first is by InnoCan Pharma’s Israel-based subsidiary InnoCan Pharma Ltd. of Herzliya. In collaboration with Tel Aviv University, they are creating a treatment for COVID-19 from cannabidiol (CBD) loaded exosomes, small structures attached to cells responsible for cell-to-cell communication and the delivery of macromolecules between cells. It is hoped that the anti-inflammatory effects of CBD may be able to aid in the recovery of infected lungs.
During their study, the researchers will use their treatment against a variety of lung infections. Throughout, the CBD-loaded exosomes will be delivered to patients via an inhalation technique. The treatment comes after animal tests showing that CBD is able to reduce bodily inflammation. It has not yet been proven however to prevent and ease illness caused by COVID-19 or other respiratory viruses.
Another study will combine CBD with steroids as a treatment for those with COVID-19. Over the course of a few weeks, researchers aim to trial the treatment on 10 patients with COVID-19 currently receiving steroid medication at Israel’s Rabin Medical Center. If the drug combination is successful, they say that the treatment option will be expanded to another 40 patients with COVID-19 under conditions set by FDA clinical trial regulations and guidelines.
In a press release, they said, “steroid treatment is usually the first or second line of treatment of hospitalized patients. CBD enhances the therapeutic effect of steroid treatment and treats the bio-mechanism affected by the virus.”
Meanwhile, the third study is led by Tel Aviv’s Ichilov Medical Center to understand whether cannabis’s anti-inflammatory properties may be used to slow down lung infections in those diagnosed with COVID-19. Trials of CBD-based treatments are being conducted in collaboration with several wards in the hospital. The researchers expect dozens of patients with moderate illness from COVID-19 to participate.
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.”