Cannabis proves effective against hospital superbugs

One of the many compounds found within marijuana plants has been isolated and tested against drug-resistant superbugs.

Scientists at McMaster University in Ontario believe they have conducted successful experiments in killing off some bacteria which are responsible for thousands of hospital deaths throughout the world.

The academics identified cannabigerol (CBG) was highly effective against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) which infects around 1.2m people a year.

Lab tests showed the non-psychoactive compound not only destroyed MRSA microbes, it also eliminated the ‘persister’ cells which scientists have become increasingly concerned over as the components are resistant to almost all known antibiotics.

The study has now moved on to animal testing which has already delivered successful trials in mice. The CBG treatment effectively eliminated the bacteria in a similar manner to vancomycin which is widely considered to be the pinnacle of treatment against drug-resistant bacteria.

The microbiologist leading the trials – Eric Brown – revealed the findings in a paper which is currently being reviewed before further work can be done on what might prove to be one of the greatest medical breakthroughs of modern times.

Dr Eric Brown, who led the study

“Public Health agencies around the globe have identified antimicrobial resistance as one of the most critical challenges of our time,” he says in the report.

“The rapid and global spread of antimicrobial-resistant organisms in recent years has been unprecedented.

Cannabis plants are important herbaceous species that have been used in folk medicine for centuries.

“Increasing scientific evidence is accumulating for the efficacy of its metabolites in the treatment, for example, of epilepsy, Parkinson disease, analgesia, multiple sclerosis, Tourette’s syndrome and other neurological diseases.”

“At a very nascent stage are investigations into the potential of cannabis metabolites as antibacterial therapies.”

Effective

He then explains how and why the marijuana derivative was so effective in the treatment trials before calling for more trials to be done on what looks to be a positive discovery for medical science.

Most bacteria fall into two classifications – ‘gram positive’ or ‘gram negative’ based upon their cell makeup. MRSA microbes are gram positive, possessing a thick cell membrane. Gram negative bacteria have both outer and inner membranes, making them more difficult to treat.

“We show that cannabinoids exhibit antibacterial activity against MRSA, inhibit its ability to form biofilms, eradicate pre-formed biofilms and stationary phase cells persistent to antibiotics,” he explained.

“We reveal that the mechanism of action of cannabigerol (CBG) is through targeting the cytoplasmic membrane of Gram-positive bacteria and demonstrate in vivo efficacy of CBG in a murine systemic infection model caused by MRSA.

“We also show that cannabinoids are effective against Gram-negative organisms whose outer membrane is permeabilized, where CBG acts on the inner membrane.

“Finally, we demonstrate that cannabinoids work in combination with polymyxin B against multi-drug resistant Gram-negative pathogens, revealing the broad-spectrum therapeutic potential for cannabinoids.

“In all, our findings position cannabinoids as promising leads for antibacterial development that warrant further study and optimisation.”

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