Marijuana Compound Effective Against Superbug

HAMILTON, Ontario, Canada, April 6, 2020 (Ecology Prime News) – A chemical compound in marijuana is effective in treating the highly resistant superbug MRSA, researchers from McMaster University have discovered. 

From left, McMaster University microbiologist Eric Brown, research associate Maya Farha and postdoctoral fellow Omar El-Halfawy conduct cannabis research at McMaster University. (Photo courtesy McMaster University) Posted for media use.

Microbiologist Eric Brown and his team found that mice infected with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), one of the most common and deadly bacteria, could be nursed back to health with a non-psychoactive element of cannabis known as cannabigerol (CBG). 

Similar to the well-known cannabinoids CBD and THC, CBG is another compound produced by marijuana plants.

“In this study, we investigated 18 commercially available cannabinoids and they all showed antibiotic activity, some much more than others,” said study lead Eric Brown, professor of biochemistry and biomedical sciences at McMaster.

“The one we focused on was a non-psychoactive cannabinoid called CBG, as it had the most promising activity. We synthesized that cannabinoid in mass quantity which gave us sufficient compound to go deep into the research.”

MRSA is recognized as a leading cause of infections and a major perpetrator of illness and death on the World Health Organization’s list of “priority pathogens” released in 2017.  

MRSA has become increasingly resistant to antibiotics currently on the market, but Brown’s study, “Uncovering the Hidden Antibiotic Potential of Cannabis,” highlights the possibility of alternative drug therapies.

Across several trials, CBG showed the strongest antibiotic potential, effectively targeting the resilient bacteria. The cannabinoid was able to penetrate the bacteria’s biofilm, a robust film-layer that the microorganism develops to protect itself, Brown said.

Despite these findings, Brown says the cannabinoid is nowhere near ready to go on the market.  

In extremely high doses he found CBG actually damaged healthy human cells. Additionally, the substance was only tested against MRSA in mice, and it’s unclear whether or not it would have the same effect in humans. 

The researchers’ findings were published February 4 in the American Chemical Society journal “Infectious Diseases.”

The study was funded by McMaster’s Michael G. DeGroote Centre for Medicinal Cannabis Research, Faculty of Health Sciences and Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research.

The next step, Brown says, is to “play around with the CBG compound and possibly combine it with another substance to reduce its toxicity.” 

While applying the antibiotic potential of cannabis may be in the early stages, Brown has a positive attitude about where the field is headed. “I think all of the stigma is gone out of medical uses of cannabis, or at least it’s waning, and I think there’s growing interest in a budding technology community in Canada that gives me some hope that maybe this will go somewhere.”

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