Published On: Mon, Feb 20th, 2017

Jamaican scientists close to creating affordable hepatitis C drug from Cannabis

marijuana-leaf1KINGSTON – Research scientists say they have discovered properties in Cannabidiol (CBD), one of the major bioactive compounds in the cannabis plant, that have the potential to provide affordable treatment as nutraceuticals and pharmaceuticals for hepatitis C.

Information on the new discovery can be found in the latest issue (January – March 2017) of Pharmacognosy Research, a publication of Pharmacognosy Network Worldwide, making it subject to peer review.

“We report here for the first time in vitro studies to demonstrate the antiviral activity of CBD against HCV,” Dr Henry Lowe, and his research team – Jamaican Wayne McLaughlin and Cameroonian Dr Ngeh Toyang – state in their published study, adding that Cannabidiol was shown to have activity against HCV in vitro but not against hepatitis B virus (HBV).

Last Friday, Lowe, who is known worldwide for his anti-cancer and ganja research, as well as the production of a range of nutraceuticals using Jamaican plants, told the Jamaica Observer that the discovery is a major development.

“This is a new discovery which has fantastic potential for the future, especially for people in developing countries, because there is a drug which was developed for hepatitis C treatment, but it’s over US$85,000 per treatment and very few people in the developing world can afford this,” he said. “So it is very important that we find less expensive means of treatment, and that is why this discovery and its potential to manage this disease is so important.

“Most of the incidences [of Hepatitis C] are in the developing world, so this means this could make a big difference if it’s taken to finality,” Lowe argued.

“This journal publication is not current, insofar as the research is concerned, because we have to protect intellectual property. We have gone far beyond this in terms of research and development to the point where we’re hoping that by next year, with the data we have, we should be able to go to clinical trials. So it’s a major, major new development,” he said.

He further stated that a nutraceutical product is currently being developed which should be ready for the market by year end. Talks, he added, have started with the South African Government on the cannabis research and development which, he believes, could open the way to the products to the developing world.

In their study, the scientists point out that viral hepatitis is caused by a group of viruses divided into five types – A, B, C, D, and E – and they are primarily known to attach to the liver.

“Hepatitis B virus and hepatitis C virus are the most dangerous and prevalent of the five virus types,” they state.

The latest World Health Organization (WHO) data state that 130 million to 150 million people globally have chronic hepatitis C infection.

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