DURBAN – A team of researchers at the University of Saskatchewan in Canada are turning their attention towards cannabis as a possible element in building a Covid-19 vaccine.
According to the team, a plant-based antigen may be easier to produce commercially on a broad scale than animal-based antigens.
Zyus Life Sciences, a medical cannabis company based in Saskatchewan in Canada, will undertake the task of determining whether or not cannabis-based compounds can play a role in the fight against Covid-19.
As of last year, the company was given the green light to develop cannabis-based medical products.
Together with the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization-International Vaccine Centre (VIDO-InterVac), Zyus Life Sciences will attempt to develop proteins for a vaccine candidate using the cannabis plant.
Given the host of drugs under microscopic view in hopes of finding a “cure”, it was inevitable that scientists turned their heads to cannabis in this fight against the coronavirus.
How is cannabis used against Covid-19?
According to Zyus Life Sciences CEO, Brent Zettl, “We had a protein platform that we’ve been working on for a number of years prior to being in the cannabis space. Asked [our team] the question, ‘do you think that we could produce a vaccine of this type of protein using our other plant system?’ And they didn’t really see why not.”
Zettle stated that his team is working with two types of different compounds. One is made using a cannabis plant and another one is made using another plant species. The compounds are used to produce a protein that can be used for a Covid-19 vaccine candidate.
“The genetic information that VIDO-InterVac has developed to find the actual antigen that would work as a vaccine—that’s actually a strand of protein. So then we take that DNA and we actually then design it in a plant and then the plant itself can manufacture that same protein,” added the Zyus CEO.
The former head of CanniMed Therapeutics Ltd said that plant-based compounds could possibly be more effective than animal-based compounds because of plants’ ability to clone proteins easier. Plants are surprisingly efficient at manufacturing proteins. Plant-based compounds are better for large-scale operation capacity.
According to Dr Paul Hodgson, a senior manager with VIDO-InterVac, no one really knows what a final vaccine candidate will be, this early in the early stages of the investigation. But with every vaccine trial, we know more about the virus and how it may be thwarted.
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