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Research & Development Medical research, Pharmaceutical

A Secret Weapon in the War Against Antibiotic Resistance?

Drug-resistant infections are a major threat to global health, raising the real possibility of a return to the pre-antibiotic age, when everyday infections could be life-threatening. With 750,000 people already dying from drug-resistant infections every year, it’s no surprise that researchers are racing to discover new antibiotics that can target these “superbugs.”

Scientist have long been aware that cannabis (like many other plants) contains compounds that can kill bacteria on contact, but a new study suggests that one such compound – cannabigerol (CBG) – can fight drug-resistant infections inside a living organism.

In the as-yet-unpublished study, researchers from Canada’s McMaster University carried out a series of experiments to prove that CBG can kill multi drug-resistant Staphylococcus auroras (MRSA) bacteria both in the Petri dish and in live mice (1). Mice treated with CBG showed similar reductions in MRSA counts as those treated with vancomycin, often the “last resort” antibiotic for drug-resistant infections.

CBG was effective at killing not only regular bacterial cells, but also the specialized “persister” cells that have the greatest resistance to antibiotics and often survive treatment, causing recurrent infections. CBG was also able to prevent and disrupt MRSA “biofilms” that can form on skin or medical implants, even at low concentrations.

The results reported are preliminary and have not yet been subjected to peer review, but if the findings are borne out in further studies, cannabinoids could represent an exciting new source of potential antibiotics. The authors agree, concluding “Our findings position cannabinoids as promising leads for antibacterial development that warrant further study and optimization.”

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  1. MA Farha et al., “Uncovering the hidden antibiotic potential of Cannabis” (2020). Available at: bit.ly/2GvahzV.
About the Author
Charlotte Barker

Associate Content Director

After studying biology at Imperial College London, I got my start in biomedical publishing as a commissioning editor for healthcare journals, and I’ve spent my career covering everything from early-stage research to clinical medicine. Attracted by the creativity, talent and passion of the team, I joined Texere Publishing in 2014, where I’m now Associate Content Director and Editor of The Cannabis Scientist.

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