Does cannabidiol mitigate the effects of COVID-19 and potential therapies for COVID-19?

Patients most vulnerable to COVID-19 have pre-existing illnesses, including diabetes and heart disease. Two potential treatments in clinical trials for COVID-19 are the anti-malarial drug, hydroxychloroquine, and the antibiotic, azithromycin. These drugs can cause side-effects, including cardiac arrhythmias which can lead to heart failure, that make them inappropriate for the most vulnerable COVID-19 patients. Cardiac arrhythmias also are a major cause of death in diabetic patients. We discovered that cannabidiol (commonly known as CBD), the main non-psychoactive chemical in Cannabis, restores normal function in cells previously exposed to high glucose, as in diabetic patients. Recovery of normal function means cannabidiol might prevent cardiac arrhythmias associated with diabetes.If cannabidiol prevents cardiac arrhythmias in diabetes, then cannabidiol may prevent arrhythmias in COVID-19 patients treated with antimalarial and antibiotic drugs. We will test whether cannabidiol guards against these side-effects and be used alongside drugs to safely treat patients most vulnerable to COVID-19. Until a vaccine for the novel coronavirus is developed, expected to take 12-18 months, drug therapies are required to treat those who develop COVID-19. Meanwhile, cannabidiol may be one key to improving the safety of treating COVID-19 with anti-malarial/antibiotic drug combinations by preventing cardiac arrhythmias in the most vulnerable patients.

Intern: 
Dana Page
Faculty Supervisor: 
Peter Ruben
Province: 
British Columbia
Partner University: 
Program: