How Cannabis Technologies May Help Combat COVID-19
Enhanced delivery and testing techniques could be valuable tools for researchers.
Across the globe, companies are racing to develop a cure for COVID-19. Some might be surprised to hear that technology from the cannabis industry could be useful in creating a vaccine or oral treatment. Several cannabis companies have recently come forward with ideas that could potentially help combat the virus and its transmission.
Enhanced drug delivery
For instance, Lexaria Bioscience Corporation recently announced they would be partnering with other leading laboratories in Canada and the U.S. to study the benefits of their DehydraTECH platform for administering antiretroviral drugs. According to their press release, the technology could be helpful for “enhancing delivery and effectiveness of certain antiretroviral drugs.”
Many antiretroviral drugs are fat-soluble, which can make it difficult for the drugs to effectively enter the bloodstream when administered orally. This is the case with cannabis, which is why Lexaria’s technology is uniquely suited to address that obstacle.
“Lexaria’s patented DehydraTECH technology has already been thoroughly studied and proven to deliver other fat-soluble drugs with increases of up to 317 percent more drug quantified in blood in a human clinical study within the first 30 minutes of dosing relative to concentration matched controls,” noted the company.
They’ll be conducting human pharmacokinetic exploratory studies with a leading Canadian university and have already submitted their plan and study design to the ethics board for approval of human trials. For now, they’ll be looking at existing antiretroviral drugs that have been used to fight other coronavirus strains and comparing their effectiveness with DehydraTECH versus control groups.
New testing capabilities
Yobie Benjamin, futurist, investor, and cannabis technologist, has proposed the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) allow cannabis companies and other institutions to use PCR machines to test for the presence of COVID-19 in human subjects. PCR stands for polymerase chain reaction, and it’s sometimes called “molecular photocopying” because it can inexpensively analyze small segments of DNA.
PCR testing is fast and efficient, able to detect bacteria, viruses, and genetic disorders in just a few hours. These machines are used extensively by the cannabis industry to identify harmful bacteria and pathogens that might be present on the plant. They’re also present in most laboratories and research facilities in the United States.
In a recently posted video, Benjamin explained, “This fully portable, water-proof machine can test nine people at the same time and be deployed anywhere there is electricity. We can also set up collection points in various areas of the country. You can buy the test strips commercially and then you have everything you need to test for the COVID-19 virus … We can deploy these systems everywhere.”
Benjamin needs a Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendment (CLIA) Certificate of Waiver issued by the FDA in order to implement his plan. He’s currently working with Zymo Research to launch the effort.
As more private companies step forward to assist in fighting the pandemic, it’s likely we’ll continue to see innovative and creative solutions coming from unexpected places.