As the call for the legalization of marijuana continues to gain more support, medical research on marijuana has have uncovered antibacterial properties of the cannabinoid CBG – which shows resistance to the drug-resistant bacteria MRSA.

 A recent research carried out by an interdisciplinary team of McMaster University researchers  and published  in the American Chemical Society Infectious Diseases revealed that an antibacterial chemical compound, or cannabinoid found in marijuana, called cannabigerol (CBG), is not only antibacterial but also effective in mice against a resilient family of bacteria called methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).

The research discovered that the cannabinoid CBG prevented the ability of MRSA bacteria to form biofilms, which consist of communities of microorganisms that attach to each other and to surfaces; and it destroyed pre-formed biofilms and cells resistant to antibiotics. This was achieved by CBG achieved via targeting the cell membrane of the bacteria.

CBG resistant to MRSA

According the study lead Eric Brown, professor of biochemistry and biomedical sciences at McMaster University, they investigated 18 commercially available cannabinoids and they all showed antibiotic activity, some much more than others and that the one they focussed on was a non-psychoactive cannabinoid called CBG, because it had the most promising activity. They  synthesised that cannabinoid in mass quantity which gave them  sufficient compound to go deep into the research.

 These findings in the laboratory were supported when mice with an MRSA infection were administered  CBG which proved to be marvellous at tackling pathogenic bacteria as  the findings suggest real therapeutic potential for cannabinoids as antibiotics.

According to Brown, one caveat that was noted by the research team which was the toxicity of CBG on the host cells which made the study’s findings an important lead rather than a likely final product. He then concluded that  this opens a therapeutic window, but a narrow one, to develop this into a drug and that  next steps were  to try to make the compound better such that  it is more specific to the bacteria and has a lower chance of toxicity.

The Antibiotic potential of cannabis

The antibiotic potential of marijuana  has been studied by the Brown lab for the past two years since the legalization of marijuana in Canada. According to Brown, the head of the research team, this research became top of mind for them, in part, because they are in Canada, a country in which there has been some stigma of investing in this kind of research, but that with the   increasing anecdotal evidence of the medicinal use of marijuana, the stigma seems to be waning.

Brown also revealed that the study was reliant on Jakob Magolan, his collaborator and a McMaster associate professor of biochemistry and biomedical sciences specialized in drug development using organic synthetic chemistry.  He also said that his lab and that of Jake are just steps away from each other, that their  teams are talking to each other all the time and that  this is  just one of many exciting projects they have  involved with that combine scientists with very different but complementary expertise.

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