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A Cannabis Compound Could Be a Superbug Fighter

By David Jagielski - Updated Jan 22, 2020 at 9:31PM

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Researchers are optimistic about what cannabigerol can do against antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Scientists at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, say they have uncovered some encouraging findings that cannabis may be effective in fighting antibiotic-resistant bacteria known as superbugs. Researchers at the Canadian university found that a lesser-known cannabinoid compound, cannabigerol (CBG), was successful in killing methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), a very common superbug found in hospitals.

In a study that is not yet public, researchers were able to use CBG to cure MRSA in mice. MRSA is particularly concerning since the bacteria is resistant to many antibiotics and can be very difficult to treat.

But scientists cautioned that it's still too early for any conclusions. The lead researcher on the study, Eric Brown, said, "There is much work to do to explore the potential of the cannabinoids as antibiotics from the safety standpoint."

People working in a lab.

Image source: Getty Images.

A lot more research needed

These findings highlight just how much there is still to learn about cannabis. While many people know about cannabidiol and tetrahydrocannabinol, there are many other compounds in cannabis that researchers need to learn more about.

And despite many studies having already been done on cannabis, the Food and Drug Administration has only approved one cannabis-based drug: U.K.-based GW Pharmaceuticals' (GWPH) Epidiolex, and that's only to treat certain forms of epilepsy. Demand for the drug has been strong; in the company's fourth quarter of 2019, Epidiolex generated $104 million in sales, with a total of $296 million in revenue for the full year.

Developing cannabis-based drugs is no easy task. Since marijuana remains a Schedule 1 illegal substance, it's very difficult to do research on it in the U.S., which is why many of the findings originate in other countries.

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