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A new study released in the Journal of Natural Products has found hemp compounds to prevent SARS-CoV-2 and emerging variants from penetrating healthy human cells. 

Researchers from Oregon State University identified two compounds with the potential to fight against coronavirus: cannabigerolic acid (CBGA) and cannabidiolic acid (CBDA). These compounds were found to bind to SARS-CoV-2 spike proteins and block the pathogen critical for infection. Researchers examined the cannabinoids’ effects against variant B.1.1.7 and B.1.351, or the alpha and beta variant, and found the compounds to be equally effective. 

SARS-CoV-2 is characterized by crown-like protrusions on the outer surface. RNA strands encode its four main structural proteins, 16 nonstructural proteins, and several “accessory” proteins. 

“Any part of the infection and replication cycle is a potential target for antiviral intervention, and the connection of the spike protein’s receptor binding domain to the human cell surface receptor ACE2 is a critical step in that cycle,” said Richard van Breemen, a researcher with Oregon State’s Global Hemp Innovation Center, College of Pharmacy and Linus Pauling Institute.

 “That means cell entry inhibitors, like the acids from hemp, could be used to prevent SARS-CoV-2 infection and also to shorten infections by preventing virus particles from infecting human cells.”

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