Canadian company applies to test medical cannabis on coronavirus symptoms

Mar 26 2020, 2:57 pm

Cannabis has some promising impacts on a variety of ailments — most notably epilepsy — but one medical cannabis company wants to see if it can be used to treat the symptoms of COVID-19.

According to a release, a medical cannabis e-commerce platform, Cannalogue, has submitted an application to Health Canada to conduct a clinical trial on the coronavirus, using the drug. If approved, Cannalogue says it will enroll patients into a “research study to determine if medical cannabis can reduce the symptoms caused by COVID-19 or any mutant strains of coronavirus.”

The company told Grow it was planning to begin its research later in the year but stepped up their timeline when coronavirus became a global issue.

“Cannalogue is committed to doing our part,” said Dr. Mohan Cooray, president and CEO of Cannalogue. “We are not suggesting with the current knowledge of medical cannabis that it is a prevention, treatment, or cure for COVID-19 or coronaviruses. However, plant cannabinoids have naturally occurring immunomodulatory properties that absolutely require expedited investigation given the current global COVID-19 pandemic.

“We think it’s a safe alternative that requires virgin investigation, particularly if we can reduce the severity.”

Cooray added they are very much committed to putting science and research behind medical cannabis; that way it translates into traditional medicine.

“Cannabinoid receptors are naturally found on immune cells in the body. If stimulated prior to an infection, it may dampen the inflammatory response that follows, which is a key factor in the severity of symptoms observed in patients,” Dr. Cooray said in a release. “This appears to be a common mechanism of action for the current therapies being investigated for COVID-19 research studies.”

Cooray told Grow that cannabis’ anti-inflammatory and aminomodulatory properties could be the key to its place among treating this particular strain of coronavirus, though he was quick to point out that this still needs confirmation and that his company is looking to serve as the tip of the spear in conducting traditional research.

“We’ve already seen [effects] in diseases such as Crohn’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, even multiple sclerosis,” he said. “We know that it is having an effect, now to what magnitude we don’t know yet because it hadn’t been a study to the rigour of traditional pharmaceutical billion-dollar trials.”

Cannalogue isn’t pushing cannabis as a potential cure either, instead, Cooray is interested in its potential as a treatment. The company will need subjects for the trial, and there are issues when it comes to finding patients, though future predictions on infection numbers may alleviate the issue.

“If we can’t flatten the curve, then we need to focus on reducing the number of deaths,” he said.

Confirmatory testing right now is a challenge because of the self-isolation protocol and limited access to testing altogether. To that end, the company has designed its research proposal.

“Our research protocol has several ways for us to be able to confirm what the tests of positive results of patients are,” Cooray explained. “There’s more than one avenue that we’re implementing whether we have active confirmatory testing or even in the absence of a validated test itself that we have sufficient grounds based on either screening or other criteria that the patient will fulfill to be able to arrive at that conclusion.”

The application to Health Canada comes after it was announced in early-March that Ottawa was suppling $27 million in funding for coronavirus research.