Cannabis could have potential for "much needed new class of antibiotics" to fight "Superbugs" such as MRSA.

12 Apr 2021

A study by researchers at the Institute for Molecular Bioscience at the University of Queensland, Australia believes that the cannabinoid CBD may destroy bacteria and "superbugs" which are otherwise resistant to modern antibiotics. 

The study carried out in conjunction with Botanix Pharmaceuticals is being lauded as a potential worldwide medical breakthrough in light of the "antibiotic resistance crisis" that the world faces. The crisis is linked directly to the overuse and misuse of current antibiotic treatments. It's a severe problem. Predictions currently suggest that antibiotic-resistant infections could become responsible for 10 million deaths, per year, around the globe by 2050 unless alternate forms of treatment are found. 

The hope is that these findings could lead to the development of new CBD based strains of antibiotics. This could mean the successful treatment of conditions such as meningitis, MRSA and legionnaires disease, which as it currently stands, do not respond to existing antibiotics.

In the study, CBD has proved to kill some types of "Gram-negative bacteria". Gram-negative bacteria have an extra outer membrane that works as an additional defence barrier, making it harder for regular antibiotics to penetrate through and become useful.

On the potential of CBD in antibiotic development Lead, author of the study, Mark Blaskovich stated that "Cannabidiol (CBD) showed a low tendency to cause resistance in bacteria. We think that CBD kills bacteria by bursting their outer cell membranes, but we don't know yet exactly how it does that, and need to do further research.".

Researchers are hopeful that they can engineer a synthetic version of CBD that can successfully and efficiently attack stubborn bacteria. If this is possible, it could result in a new age of antibiotics for the first time in 60 years.

 Now that it has been proven that CBD is effective against gram-negative bacteria, the plan is to look at how it does this. The next step will then be improving its effectiveness and discovering other molecules which may behave similarly.

"We want something that doesn't break down in the body as quickly as CBD does. There's definitely potential there that CBD could be a prototypical representative of a new class of antibiotics" said Dr Blaskovich. 

Botanix Pharmaceuticals are optimistic about the findings too, so much, so that phase 2a clinical trials of a topical CBD formulation is being progressed. The hope is that these clinical trial results (due in early this year) will be positive. This will then pave the way to create successful treatments for infamous incurable "superbugs" such as MRSA.

The reputation of Cannabis and its many compounds has been dramatically improved by medical science in recent years as the level of research has increased massively. Many discoveries have been made on how this versatile plant can be beneficial to all spheres of human health, be it general wellness, or the treatment of many physical and psychological conditions.

 If this new research is successful, it could be the most significant breakthrough in unlocking the medicinal properties and potential of the cannabis plant that we have seen so far. It is not something that is going to happen overnight; however. Dr Blaskovich estimates that it will be 10-15 years before a cannabinoid-based antibiotic could be approved if further trials are successful. 

Although this may seem so far in the future that it is irrelevant, CBD derived antibiotics' potential should not be underestimated. This discovery could lead to drug treatments that provide a much-needed solution to the antibiotic resistance crisis that the medical world is currently trying to solve. It is a solution that could save millions of lives in the not so distant future.