A combination of compounds found in cannabis showed the potential to treat or even prevent coronavirus infections in human lung cells, according to recently published research. The study, “In Vitro Evaluation of the Activity of Terpenes and Cannabidiol against Human Coronavirus E229,” was published by the peer-reviewed journal Life on March 29.
The research studied the antiviral action of a proprietary formula of terpenes, which are natural volatile compounds found in many plants including cannabis. The formulation, known as NT-VRL, is a combination of 30 terpenes including beta-caryophyllene, eucalyptol and citral developed by cannabis technology company Eybna.
Terpenes have shown the potential to treat a wide variety of viral infections in many in vitro studies, and research released by Eybna last year found that NT-VRL combined with cannabidiol (CBD) showed promise as a treatment for the severe inflammatory response seen in many Covid-19 patients known as a cytokine storm.
Additional research was conducted by Eybna and pre-clinical contract research organization Pharmaseed to evaluate the antiviral properties of NT-VRL with and without CBD against the human coronavirus strain HCoV-229E. Although not the strain of coronavirus that causes Covid-19 (SARS-CoV-2), the less virulent HCoV-229E is associated with various respiratory illnesses ranging from the common cold to severe pneumonia and is considered a good alternative for preliminary research.
The antiviral action of NT-VRL was determined by treating uninfected lung cells with the substances researched in the study. In addition to NT-VTRL and CBD, pyrazofurin, a natural antiviral that has shown effectiveness against SARS-related coronaviruses, was used as a positive control. Glycyrrhizin, a compound that has been used to successfully treat SARS patients, was used as a second positive control. The therapeutic activity of the compounds was evaluated in terms of the cytopathic effect observed under an inverted microscope and with an in vitro cell viability assay.