Identification of SARS-CoV-2 Main Protease Inhibitors from a Library of Minor Cannabinoids by Biochemical Inhibition Assay and Surface Plasmon Resonance Characterized Binding Affinity


“The replication of the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is mediated by its main protease (Mpro), which is a plausible therapeutic target for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Although numerous in silico studies reported the potential inhibitory effects of natural products including cannabis and cannabinoids on SARS-CoV-2 Mpro, their anti-Mpro activities are not well validated by biological experimental data. Herein, a library of minor cannabinoids belonging to several chemotypes including tetrahydrocannabinols, cannabidiols, cannabigerols, cannabichromenes, cannabinodiols, cannabicyclols, cannabinols, and cannabitriols was evaluated for their anti-Mpro activity using a biochemical assay. Additionally, the binding affinities and molecular interactions between the active cannabinoids and the Mpro protein were studied by a biophysical technique (surface plasmon resonance; SPR) and molecular docking, respectively. Cannabinoids tetrahydrocannabutol and cannabigerolic acid were the most active Mpro inhibitors (IC50 = 3.62 and 14.40 μM, respectively) and cannabigerolic acid had a binding affinity KD=2.16×10-4 M). A preliminary structure and activity relationship study revealed that the anti-Mpro effects of cannabinoids were influenced by the decarboxylation of cannabinoids and the length of cannabinoids’ alkyl side chain. Findings from the biochemical, biophysical, and computational assays support the growing evidence of cannabinoids’ inhibitory effects on SARS-CoV-2 Mpro.”

“In summary, the inhibitory effects of a collection of cannabinoids on SARS-CoV-2 3CL Mpro were screened by a biochemical assay. Several minor cannabinoids (e.g., THCB and CBGA) showed promising anti-Mpro activity. In addition, we observed that decarboxylated cannabinoids, such as CBG and CBD, showed undermined inhibition capacity, as compared to the precursing cannabinoid acids (i.e., CBGA and CBDA, respectively). This SAR was supported by the binding affinities between these cannabinoids and the Mpro protein obtained from the SPR assays. Furthermore, the impact of the length of the alkyl side chain of cannabinoids on their anti-Mpro activity was explored. Our study is the first to evaluate the anti-Mpro activity of minor cannabinoids and their mechanisms of action, which contribute to a better understanding of cannabinoids’ potential roles in the management of COVID-19.”

Analysis of Anti-Cancer and Anti-Inflammatory Properties of 25 High-THC Cannabis Extracts


“Cannabis sativa is one of the oldest cultivated plants. Many of the medicinal properties of cannabis are known, although very few cannabis-based formulations became prescribed drugs. Previous research demonstrated that cannabis varieties are very different in their medicinal properties, likely due to the entourage effect-the synergistic or antagonistic effect of various cannabinoids and terpenes.

In this work, we analyzed 25 cannabis extracts containing high levels of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). We used HCC1806 squamous cell carcinoma and demonstrated various degrees of efficiency of the tested extracts, from 66% to 92% of growth inhibition of cancer cells.

Inflammation was tested by induction of inflammation with TNF-α/IFN-γ in WI38 human lung fibroblasts. The efficiency of the extracts was tested by analyzing the expression of COX2 and IL6; while some extracts aggravated inflammation by increasing the expression of COX2/IL6 by 2-fold, other extracts decreased inflammation, reducing expression of cytokines by over 5-fold.

We next analyzed the level of THC, CBD, CBG and CBN and twenty major terpenes and performed clustering and association analysis between the chemical composition of the extracts and their efficiency in inhibiting cancer growth and curbing inflammation.

A positive correlation was found between the presence of terpinene (pval = 0.002) and anti-cancer property; eucalyptol came second, with pval of 0.094. p-cymene and β-myrcene positively correlated with the inhibition of IL6 expression, while camphor correlated negatively. No significant correlation was found for COX2. We then performed a correlation analysis between cannabinoids and terpenes and found a positive correlation for the following pairs: α-pinene vs. CBD, p-cymene vs. CBGA, terpenolene vs. CBGA and isopulegol vs. CBGA.

Our work, thus, showed that most of high-THC extracts demonstrate anti-cancer activity, while only certain selected extracts showed anti-inflammatory activity. Presence of certain terpenes, such as terpinene, eucalyptol, cymene, myrcene and camphor, appear to have modulating effects on the activity of cannabinoids.”

“Cannabis sativa is a plant with a long history of consumption as food and medicine. Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is one of the main cannabinoids in cannabis; it has many properties, including anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, analgetic and others.”

Extraction, Physicochemical Properties, Anti-Aging, and Antioxidant Activities of Polysaccharides from Industrial Hemp Residues


“A large amount of hemp polysaccharides remain in industrial hemp residues (IHR) after cannabidiol extraction, resulting in the waste of resources. Therefore, the systematic study of hemp polysaccharides is beneficial to the development of IHR in the future. In this study, the extraction of industrial hemp residues polysaccharide (IHRPs) was optimized by single-factor experiment and orthogonal experimental design. The optimum heating extraction conditions were extraction temperature 98 °C, solid-liquid ratio 1:10, extraction time 1 h, number of successive extractions 2, and pH at 4. The extraction ratio and the polysaccharide content were 20.12 ± 0.55% and 12.35 ± 0.26% at the conditions, respectively. Besides, the best alcohol precipitation conditions were pumping with 2 L/h, stirring continuously, and ice-water bath for 4 h. The crude IHRPs was further purified by column chromatography and the polysaccharide/protein contents of purified IHRPs were 34.44% and 1.61%. IHRPs was mainly made up of ten monosaccharides and some non-sugar components including organic acids, flavonoids, steroids, and glycoside. The FT-IR demonstrated the polysaccharide skeleton of IHRPs. Moreover, the DPPH and ABTS scavenging rate of IHRPs were 76.00% and 99.05% at the concentrations of 1 mg/mL. IHRPs could promote the epidermal cells proliferation and healing of cell scratches. Meanwhile, IHRPs could promoted the expression of anti-aging-related genes. Overall, IHRPs could be a desirable natural source of antioxidants and anti-aging products in many aspects.”

Terpenes and Cannabinoids in Supercritical CO 2 Extracts of Industrial Hemp Inflorescences: Optimization of Extraction, Antiradical and Antibacterial Activity


“Natural products are increasingly in demand in dermatology and cosmetology. In the present study, highly valuable supercritical CO2 (sCO2) extracts rich in bioactive compounds with antiradical and antibacterial activity were obtained from the inflorescences of industrial hemp. Volatile compounds were analyzed by gas chromatography in tandem with mass spectrometry (GC-MS), while cannabinoids were determined by high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC-DAD). Extraction yields varied from 0.75 to 8.83%, depending on the pressure and temperature applied. The extract obtained at 320 bar and 40 °C with the highest content (305.8 µg mg-1) of cannabidiolic acid (CBDA) showed the best antiradical properties. All tested extract concentrations from 10.42 µg mL-1 to 66.03 µg mL-1 possessed inhibitory activities against E. coliP. aeruginosa, B. subtilis, and S. aureus. The sCO2 extract with the highest content of cannabidiol (CBD) and rich in α-pinene, β-pinene, β-myrcene, and limonene was the most effective. The optimal conditions for sCO2 extraction of cannabinoids and volatile terpenes from industrial hemp were determined. The temperature of 60 °C proved to be optimal for all responses studied, while the pressure showed a different effect depending on the compounds targeted. A low pressure of 131.2 bar was optimal for the extraction of monoterpenes, while extracts rich in sesquiterpenes were obtained at 319.7 bar. A high pressure of 284.78 bar was optimal for the extraction of CBD.”

Promising Nanocarriers to Enhance Solubility and Bioavailability of Cannabidiol for a Plethora of Therapeutic Opportunities


“In recent years, the interest in cannabidiol (CBD) has increased because of the lack of psychoactive properties. However, CBD has low solubility and bioavailability, variable pharmacokinetics profiles, poor stability, and a pronounced presystemic metabolism. CBD nanoformulations include nanosuspensions, polymeric micelles and nanoparticles, hybrid nanoparticles jelled in cross-linked chitosan, and numerous nanosized lipid formulations, including nanostructured lipid carriers, vesicles, SNEEDS, nanoemulsions, and microemulsions. Nanoformulations have resulted in high CBD solubility, encapsulation efficiency, and stability, and sustained CBD release. Some studies assessed the increased Cmax and AUC and decreased Tmax. A rational evaluation of the studies reported in this review evidences how some of them are very preliminary and should be completed before performing clinical trials. Almost all the developed nanoparticles have simple architectures, are well-known and safe nanocarriers, or are even simple nanosuspensions. In addition, the conventional routes of administration are generally investigated. As a consequence, many of these studies are almost ready for forthcoming clinical translations. Some of the developed nanosystems are very promising for a plethora of therapeutic opportunities because of the versatility in terms of the release, the crossing of physiological barriers, and the number of possible routes of administration.”

Use of Cannabidiol in the Management of Insomnia: A Systematic Review

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“Background: Cannabidiol (CBD), one of the major cannabinoids derived from the cannabis plant, is available over the counter. CBD is often used by patients for the management of insomnia, yet research supporting CBDs effectiveness as a treatment for insomnia is inadequate. 

Objective: The objective of this review was to critically evaluate the literature regarding the therapeutic benefits of CBD in the management of insomnia. 

Methods: A comprehensive search of the following databases from inception to December 29, 2021, was conducted: Ovid MEDLINE® and Epub Ahead of Print, In-Process & Other Non-Indexed Citations and Daily, Ovid Embase, Ovid Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, Ovid Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, and Scopus. The search included randomized controlled trials, nonrandomized experimental studies, cross-sectional studies, cohort studies, case series, and case reports. Risk of bias was assessed with the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality design-specific recommended criteria. 

Results: Thirty-four studies were eligible for inclusion. All studies reported improvement in the insomnia symptoms of at least a portion of their participants. Of the 34 studies, 19 studies used CBD predominant therapy and 21 studies used nearly equal ratios of CBD to Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Of the studies that performed hypothesis testing, 4 of 7 studies with a CBD predominant arm and 12 of 16 studies with a nearly equal ratio of CBD to THC arm reported significant improvement in insomnia outcomes. However, only 2 of the 34 studies focused on patients with insomnia, of which 1 study was a case report. Additionally, several studies used nonvalidated subjective measures, and most studies failed to include objective measures for symptom assessment. 

Conclusions: The results of our systematic review suggest that CBD alone or with equal quantities of THC may be beneficial in alleviating the symptoms of insomnia. Nevertheless, future research assessing CBDs effectiveness in population of patients specifically with insomnia utilizing validated subjective and objective measures is necessary before definitive inferences can be made.”

Cannabidiol prevents methamphetamine-induced neurotoxicity by modulating dopamine receptor D1-mediated calcium-dependent phosphorylation of methyl-CpG-binding protein 2

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“In the past decade, methamphetamine (METH) abuse has sharply increased in the United States, East Asia, and Southeast Asia. METH abuse not only leads to serious drug dependence, but also produces irreversible neurotoxicity. Currently, there are no approved pharmacotherapies for the treatment of METH use disorders. Cannabidiol (CBD), a major non-psychoactive (and non-addictive) cannabinoid from the cannabis plant, shows neuroprotective, antioxidative, and anti-inflammatory properties under METH exposure. At present, however, the mechanisms underlying these properties remain unclear, which continues to hinder research on its therapeutic potential. In the current study, computational simulations showed that CBD and METH may directly bind to the dopamine receptor D1 (DRD1) via two overlapping binding sites. Moreover, CBD may compete with METH for the PHE-313 binding site. We also found that METH robustly induced apoptosis with activation of the caspase-8/caspase-3 cascade in-vitro and in-vivo, while CBD pretreatment prevented these changes. Furthermore, METH increased the expression of DRD1, phosphorylation of Methyl-CpG-binding protein 2 (MeCP2) at serine 421 (Ser421), and level of intracellular Ca2+ in-vitro and in-vivo, but these effects were blocked by CBD pretreatment. The DRD1 antagonist SCH23390 significantly prevented METH-induced apoptosis, MeCP2 phosphorylation, and Ca2+ overload in-vitro. In contrast, the DRD1 agonist SKF81297 markedly increased apoptosis, MeCP2 phosphorylation, and Ca2+ overload, which were blocked by CBD pretreatment in-vitro. These results indicate that CBD prevents METH-induced neurotoxicity by modulating DRD1-mediated phosphorylation of MeCP2 and Ca2+ signaling. This study suggests that CBD pretreatment may resist the effects of METH on DRD1 by competitive binding.”

“In conclusion, our results suggest that METH induces neurotoxicity via DRD1-mediated calcium-dependent phosphorylation of MeCP2 at Ser421. Moreover, CBD significantly prevents METH-induced neurotoxicity via modulation of DRD1.”

Parent and Caregiver Perspectives towards Cannabidiol as a Treatment for Fragile X Syndrome


“Cannabidiol (CBD) is a non-intoxicating chemical in cannabis plants that is being investigated as a candidate for treatment in Fragile X Syndrome (FXS), a leading known cause of inherited intellectual developmental disability. Studies have shown that CBD can reduce symptoms such as anxiety, social avoidance, hyperactivity, aggression, and sleep problems. This is a qualitative study that utilized a voluntary-anonymous survey that consisted of questions regarding demographics, medical information, the form, type, brand, dose, and frequency of CBD use, the rationale for use, the perception of effects, side effects, and costs. The full survey contained a total of 34 questions, including multiple-choice, Likert-scale, and optional free-response questions. This research revealed that there are a wide range of types, brands, and doses of CBD being administered to individuals with FXS by their parents and caregivers. There were many reasons why CBD was chosen, the most common ones being that respondents had heard positive things about CBD from members of the community, the perception that CBD had fewer side effects than other medications, and because respondents felt that CBD was a more natural substance. Most of the parents and caregivers who responded agreed that CBD improved some of the symptoms of FXS and made a positive difference overall. CBD has the therapeutic potential to help relieve some FXS symptoms. Future research is necessary to understand the benefits of CBD in FXS.”

Cannabis-based magistral formulation is highly effective as an adjuvant treatment in drug-resistant focal epilepsy in adult patients: an open-label prospective cohort study


“Introduction: The safety and efficacy of a formulation high in cannabidiol (CBD) and low in ∆9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) to treat drug-resistant epilepsy have been examined previously in children, but not in adult population. The aim of this study was to evaluate whether CBD-rich oil, as an add-on treatment to conventional antiepileptic drugs, was effective, safe, and well-tolerated in adults with drug-resistant focal epilepsy (DRFE).

Methods: An open-label, prospective cohort, single-center in adult patients with DRFE, were receiving stable doses of antiepileptic drugs (AEDs). A cannabis based-magistral formulation (CBMF) (100 mg/ml CBD and THC <1.9 mg/ml) was administrated 0.1 ml sublingually every 12 hours, up-titrated weekly. The primary outcome was to establish a reduction in seizures frequency >50% at 12 weeks. Adverse-drug reactions monitoring was done. p-value <0.05 was statistically significant.

Results: Between August 2020 and July 2022, 44 (38.6%) patients completed >3 months of follow-up. The median daily dose of CBD was 200 mg, that of THC was 4 mg, and that of CBD per kilogram of weight was 3.7 mg. The median number of seizures per month before CBD treatment was 11, and after CBD treatment was 2.5 (p<0.001). A reduction in seizures >50% at 12 week was achieved in 79.5% of the patients. The median percentage change in seizure frequency per month was 84.1% at 12 weeks. Five patients reported any adverse-drug reactions.

Conclusion: The CBMF is a highly effective and safety therapy to treat adult patients with DRFE. The reduction in seizures frequency is maintained over time.”

Investigation of cannabidiol’s potential targets in limbic seizures. In-silico approach

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“Even though the vast armamentarium of FDA-approved antiepileptic drugs is currently available, over one-third of patients do not respond to medication, which arises a need for alternative medicine. In clinical and preclinical studies, various investigations have shown the advantage of specific plant-based cannabidiol (CBD) products in treating certain groups of people with limbic epilepsy who have failed to respond to conventional therapies. This work aims to investigate possible mechanisms by which CBD possesses its anticonvulsant properties. Molecular targets for CBD’s treatment of limbic epilepsy, including hyperpolarization-activated cyclic nucleotide-gated channel 1 (HCN1), gamma-aminobutyric acid aminotransferase (GABA-AT), and gamma-aminobutyric acid type A receptor (GABAA), were used to evaluate its binding affinity. Interactions with the CB1 receptor were initially modeled as a benchmark, which further proved the efficiency of proposed here approach. Considering the successful benchmark, we further used the same concept for in silico investigation, targeting proteins of interest. As a result of molecular docking, molecular mechanics, and molecular dynamics simulations models of CBD-receptor complexes were proposed and evaluated. While CBD possessed decently high affinity and stability within the binding pockets of GABA-AT and some binding sites of GABAA, the most effective binding was observed in the CBD complex with HCN1 receptor. 100 ns molecular dynamics simulation revealed that CBD binds the open pore of HCN1 receptor, forming a similar pattern of interactions as potent Lamotrigine. Therefore, we can propose that HCN1 can serve as a most potent target for cannabinoid antiepileptic treatment. Communicated by Ramaswamy H. Sarma.”