- Recent research efforts have targeted the potential of cannabis compounds to combat COVID-19 infection as the worldwide pandemic presses forward into its third year
- Perhaps most notable among the early-stage research efforts is a study by Oregon State University that found high doses of two specific cannabinoids bound to spike proteins such as COVID’S SARS-CoV-2 and inhibited their potential for infection
- Cannabis cultivator and brand builder Flora Growth Corp. has filed a provisional patent application for a cannabinoid-based formula that it is simultaneously seeking approval from Colombia’s food and drug regulatory authority for a study and potential clinical trial in fighting COVID
- Flora Growth hopes to fast-track the product for potential commercialization as a therapeutic for combating the virus
- Flora also recently named James Choe, the founder of its cannabis technology acquisition Vessel, as Flora’s new chief strategy officer to help establish the company’s direction in the coming years
A number of recent studies have signaled the possibility that cannabis derivative products may be beneficial in preventing COVID infections or combatting them once they have caused sickness. The baseline studies have generated enough excitement that cannabis cultivator and worldwide cannabidiol (“CBD”) brand builder Flora Growth (NASDAQ: FLGC) is asking Colombia’s food and drug regulatory agency to approve the company’s plans for more rigorous research into a patent-pending, cannabinoid-based product to fight viruses such as COVID’s SARS-CoV-2.
“At Flora Growth we believe in following the research, and there have been several promising studies published in just the last few months on the application of cannabinoids in certain treatments. We are excited for our Flora Pharma researchers to build upon this progress and generate new data for how cannabis could help consumers around the world, leveraging this natural, botanical alternative,” Flora Growth President and CEO Luis Merchan stated in the company’s Feb. 2 announcement (https://cnw.fm/Ty20P).
Flora Growth is asking Colombia’s regulatory Instituto Nacional de Vigilancia de Medicamentos y Alimentos (“INVIMA”) to provide guidelines for researching cannabis products’ effects on the SARS-CoV-2 virus under emergency use authorization protocols that let Flora pursue the fastest path to market for a product that would serve as an immune system-enhancing preventative therapeutic.
The potential for cannabis compounds found in non-psychoactive hemp to act in a COVID prevention capacity was announced by Oregon State University researchers in late January after they found that high doses of cannabigerolic acid, or CBGA, and cannabidiolic acid, or CBDA, prevented infection of human epithelial cells by “a pseudovirus expressing the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein” and prevented entry of live SARS-CoV-2 into cells (https://cnw.fm/GhaC8).
The study’s authors note that the compounds are orally bioavailable and have a long history of safe human use.
The compounds worked by binding to spike proteins found on the virus and preventing it from following a process it uses to infect people, although the study didn’t go so far as to give the supplements to people and compare their effectiveness in patients to those who wouldn’t receive the substances (https://cnw.fm/ZMrNo).
A Reuters report on the development noted similar research that found small doses of highly purified CBD did not keep the coronavirus from infecting cells in test tubes, but rather acted soon after the virus entered the cells, blocking it from making copies of itself. The researchers also found small doses of cannabis compounds tetrahydrocannabinol (“THC”), cannabidivarin (“CBDV”), cannabichromene (“CBC”) and cannabigerol (“CBG”) — as well as CBDA — did not keep the virus out of cells or prevent it from replicating, and that THC actually prevented the CBD from working.
The high doses of CBDA and CBGA used in the OSU study “were non-toxic to cells. (But) it is not clear yet that similarly high doses would be safe for humans,” study author Richard van Breemen told Reuters (https://cnw.fm/iXiSw).
Flora’s research division, Flora Pharma, has filed a provisional patent application on a cannabinoid-based formula and with INVIMA’s backing would take the product through clinical trials that would exceed the early-stage research done by the other entities, the company states. Flora Pharma is based at the company’s Cosechemos cultivation facility in central Colombia, and approval would mark the first emergency use authorization granted by INVIMA for cannabinoid therapies against COVID.
“I have worked on various aspects of SARS-CoV-2 research for the last two years, with a focus on cannabinoid therapeutics more broadly,” Flora Pharma managing scientist Dr. Annabelle Manalo-Morgan stated. “I believe the Flora team is best positioned to formulate, test and ultimately bring to the market this kind of novel product offering.”
As Flora Growth establishes its direction for the coming years, the company named James Choe, the founder and CEO of premium cannabis consumption facilitator Vessel, as Flora’s chief strategy officer (https://cnw.fm/LKORH). Flora acquired Vessel’s sustainable technology and accessories late last year (https://cnw.fm/XPJ5c).
For more information, visit the company’s website at www.FloraGrowth.com.
NOTE TO INVESTORS: The latest news and updates relating to FLGC are available in the company’s newsroom at https://cnw.fm/FLGC
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