Recently, two coronavirus vaccines have proven effective in triggering an immune response in humans. According to the doctors, both drugs led to a similar response as the actual virus.
Coronavirus cases have been increasing ever since the virus’s outbreak in Wuhan, China last year. The novel virus belongs to the SARS family and was said to have spread from bats to humans. Soon after the outbreak, it became a global pandemic effecting a large number of countries across the globe.
The governments pushed majority of the nations into lockdown and implemented strict precautionary measures to control the spread of the disease. This adversely affected the world’s economy even causing the oil market to crash.
Various scientists and research groups have been actively working to find a treatment plan for the infection. Numerous attempts have also been made for developing a vaccine. Although, a number of potential candidates are in the human trial phases, FDA has not approved any of them yet. Researchers believe it will take a few more months for the vaccine to be available in the market.
Recently two human trials testing different vaccines have produced a fruitful outcome. Both drugs were able to trigger an immune response similar to the actual virus in humans. The results showed that antibodies and white blood cell production in the body significantly increased to fight off the foreign bodies.
The human trial for the first vaccine was held in Britain. It involved over thousand adult subjects who were given a shot of the vaccine and the results were analyzed. The findings showed that the developed drug was able to induce a T white blood cell immune response. It also led to the production of strong antibodies in the body.
The second trial was held in China and involved around five hundred people. Like the trial in Britain, the Chinese study subjects were also given a dose of the vaccine. The results showed a powerful immune response in all of the volunteers.The findings from both studies were published in a science journal called The Lancet medical journal.
Future Implications of the Studies
Even if the vaccines do not prove effective in the more advanced phases, the research can prove to be an effective and important stepping stone for the ultimate development of the vaccine for the novel corona virus. Future research can work on, and improve the methods employed by the current studies to increase the probability of success in the vaccine development endeavors.
The lead authors of both studies stated that there were very few negative side effects observed in the subjects. They further added that the research is promising. However, more work needs to be done before the vaccine can be made available to the public. Particularly, the drugs need to be modified in order to reduce the intensity of their side effects in older people, who are more likely to die from the coronavirus infection.
Sarah Gilbert a co author of the study from the university of oxford said that if approved by the FDA, the vaccine can be easily produced on a large scale, given the procedure the development process follows.
Connection of Marijuana usage with Autism stirs concerns
With the legalization of cannabis use globally, healthcare experts are sounding increased distress alarms. According to the latest researches conducted by related groups, the incidence of autism in children is on the rise due to increased marijuana consumption by either one or both parents of the unborn child.
Studies conducted by some of the prestigious institutions have backed these fears with their in-depth analysis of the matter.
Relationship between marijuana usage and autism in children
When Expecting Mothers Smoke Weed
Escalated marijuana usage by expectant mothers during their gestational period is supposedly causing a rise in the cases of autism.
Studies carried out in Canada between April 2007 and March 2012 have backed these claims with the thorough scientific analysis of researchers.
According to the outcomes of the research, marijuana exposure during gestation increases the risk of autism development in children by almost 50% .
Around 2.2 percent of the subjects faced greater intellectual difficulties like speech delays, smaller attention spans and social anxiety later on in their lives. These figures were in contrast to 1.4 percent of children with developmental delays born to mothers did not smoke weed during gestation.
Daniel Corsi, an epidemiologist and PhD holder in Health Research Methodology, reported the findings of these studies in Nature Medicine.
Another supporter of the main findings of these studies is Dr. Torri Metz, a clinical researcher and expert in the fields of obstetrics, gynecology and fetal development. She holds great interests in the impacts of marijuana intake on fetal development during pregnancy. She strictly advocates the idea that marijuana usage impacts fetal neurodevelopment negatively, with the true extents still under investigation.
Since the magnitude of marijuana usage on fetal brain development is largely unknown, doctors discourage it while pregnant or breastfeeding.
When Fathers smoke weed
Duke University Medical Center has conducted an interesting study on the subject. As per the research findings, autism in children also has some connections with marijuana intake by fathers.
According to the study, a particular gene undergoes genetic changes with increased marijuana usage. This gene is related directly related with autism and the changes can be passed on to the offspring.
These genetic changes are triggered in the sperm, once again establishing a negative relationship between neurological development and marijuana usage.
“This study is the first to demonstrate an association between a man’s cannabis use and changes of a gene in sperm that has been implicated in autism,” said senior author Susan Murphy, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology at Duke University School of Medicine.
The entire team behind this research was skeptical about the idea that marijuana is benign in nature, and urged further research and studies on the subject.
With so much data that already discourages the use of alcohol by expecting mothers, there remains very less doubt pertaining to marijuana usage.
Why is marijuana getting more medical attention?
Despite of all of these research results, there are segments of stakeholders that see no harm in marijuana consumption. They argue that marijuana intake is a safer option for some to get relief from nausea, stress and anxiety which are a part and parcel of pregnancy and some other diseases as well.
Some healthcare providers actually encourage the use of cannabis to treat autism. According to them, it is an ‘effective option’ for dealing with conditions like seizures, anger fists and depression in such patients. They argue that cannabis actually improves the quality of life of autistic patients by huge percentages.
With increased legalization of marijuana and many related products, there are chances that consumption is going to see further increases. This means that the need for research on marijuana usage and its impacts on individual health is higher than ever before.
Patient limit on caregivers entices mixed reactions among marijuana stakeholders
The Cannabis Control Commission of Massachusetts recently announced its policy to raise patient to caregiver ratios in the state. The establishment of this ratio has received different reactions from stakeholders in the marijuana industry whereby the response to the decision has been extremely varied.
The patient:nurse dispute of Massachusetts
The conflict of patient to nurse ratio has been an ongoing debate between marijuana stakeholders in the state of Massachusetts.
This equivocal matter has continued for more than two decades now. Consequently, these contentions have led to the conduction of an indirect initiated state statue in the region.
In 2018, Massachusetts was asked to participate in the Nurse-Patient Assignment Limits Initiative. The purpose of this was to get the opinion of the majority on the issue.
The results of this ballot showed that about 70.24% of the ballot participants were against patient assignment limits on caregivers.
This was a huge disappointment for the Massachusetts Nurses Association, whereby by a lack of limit was sighted as a an exploitation of caregivers. Likewise, a lack of limits is also a huge risk to the well-being of the patients which subsequently puts them in harm’s way.
In comparison to this, these results were much celebrated as a victory by the Massachusetts Health and Hospital Association. The president, Steve Walsh was content with the creation of the MHHA program to address overburdened caregivers. These results had allowed hospitals to reduce their nursing staff, helping to keep their costs low.
Changing Marijuana Policies in Massachusetts
Massachusetts was among the first states to ban marijuana usage back in the day. In recent years, the state has witnessed marijuana policy revisions that have been monumental.
These years have seen a legalization of marijuana consumption at different levels across the state. 2014 allowed medicinal consumption, followed by subsequent recreational use permission in 2016.
Stakeholder groups like Cannabis Control Commission, Massachusetts Patients Advocacy Alliance and Massachusetts Nurses Association were among the top most supporters of this legalization initiative.
The involvement of such well structured organizations had a massive impact on flexing marijuana policies. Their efforts finally made Massachusetts the eighteenth state to legalize the use of marijuana.
Marijuana patient limit : A Clash of interests of Stakeholders
The irony as of now is that following the public hearings held on August 3, there has been a clash of interests between the stakeholders of the marijuana industry in Massachusetts.
The reason? Contradictions relating to patient to caregiver ratios.
According to the new policies pertaining to medical marijuana usage, the patient to caregiver ratio would now be 10:1. This means that every Medical Marijuana treatment facility will have one caregiver for accommodating patient needs.
This new development has invited mixed reactions from different stake holders of the marijuana industry.
For stake holding groups like the Massachusetts Patient Advocacy Alliance, the increased ratio of medical marijuana patients to caregivers is not only going to diminish the quality of care that each patient receives, but will also increase chances of an unregulated ‘gray market’ .
The reason for this being the authority marijuana care-givers will or already have as per state laws of the region. Furthermore, some Medical Marijuana facilities also have the approval to cultivate marijuana for their patients. This has become raise doubts regarding legal compliance and well will be carried out.
For the most part, the association supports multiple patients under caregivers, it is but it is particularly against the proposed limit number of ten patients. The only encouragement seen by this association is the expected reduction in marijuana costs for patients whereof caregivers will provide the drug at prices lower than pharma companies.
The current ratio of 10:1 is an encouraging figure for the nurses in the Medical Marijuana treatment centers. Consequently, it can act as a compensation to the previously faced defeat in Nurse-Patient Assignment Limits Initiative of 2018.
With further flexibility in marijuana laws, these facilities can expect an increased percentage of patients. Regulating them with limiting patient number per healthcare worker is surely going to be move in a positive direction.
Study: Cannabis Terpene Treatment For COVID-19
A recent Israeli study has found a possible treatment for COVID-19 complications in cannabis. The chemical CBD (cannabidiol) has been studied in a combination with a cannabis terpene (NT-VRL). This CBD is one of the key ingredients in cannabis sativa. Meanwhile, the cannabis terpene NT-VRL (patent of Ebyna) is an aromatic chemical from the flowers of the plant. When administered in combination, there has been a noticeable positive effect on ‘cytokine storm’, a feared complication of COVID-19.
Cytokine storm is a dangerous reaction to COVID-19 by the body’s immune system
The term ‘cytokine storm’ refers to a chain reaction of immune cells, causing increasing levels of inflammation. Because the body is responding the the coronavirus infecting the patient, it secretes small proteins called ‘cytokines’. Usually, these have small but important roles in helping kill off the virus by creating inflammation and fever. However, when this reaction goes unchecked, it can be deadly if untreated. The patient would undergo very high levels of fever, fatigue, inflammation and in worst-cases, respiratory failure.
This is why the recent discovery that COVID-19 can lead to cytokine storm was so shocking. It meant that even young, healthy people with strong immune systems would be susceptible to potential deaths from this disease. Furthermore, the most widely-used drug of choice for treating this, dexamethasone, is undergoing global shortage.
The company, Ebyna, had patented the cannabis terpene, NT-VRL
The study was a collaboration between Ebyna, the terpene company, and Cannasoul, a cannabis research entity. Thus, Ebyna and Cannasoul’s joint venture led to the formation of an inhalant drug. This contained NT-VRL, to be administered with or without CBD. The aim of the study was to investigate the effects they had on treating cytokine storm from COVID-19.
Long just dismissed as simply useful in the flavor/smell of cannabis products, terpenes were shown to be very effective in this case. When combined with the CBD, which has also been shown to have positive health effects, it was remarkable. The combined therapy of both CBD and NT-VRL significantly improved symptoms of cytokine storm from COVID-19.
“This type of delivery [inhaled, rather than ingested] method is a game-changer enabling us to achieve therapeutic qualities from these unique phytochemicals like never before,” said Nadav Eya, the CEO of Ebyna. He was referring to the unexpected efficacy of the NT-VRL therapy in this COVID-19 complication.
Other studies confirm Ebyna-Cannasoul’s findings
Outside of Israel, several studies report similar findings. More and more researchers are turning to cannabis byproducts to battle the COVID-19 pandemic.
Igor and Olga Kovalchuck, researchers from Canada, were both developing a new strain of cannabis. Their aim was to extract anti-cancer drugs from it. However, the new COVID-19 pandemic caused them to shift focus towards combating the coronavirus. Their strain is hoped to be able to produce a drug that could reduce the communicability of SARS-CoV2. It would do so by restricting the ACE-2 receptors in the body.
All in all, Ebyna and Cannasoul’s NT-VRL terpene may just be revolutionary. The existence of terpene as an anti-cytokine storm drug is still debatable, and more research is still required. However, their study and that of corroborators have shown that cannabis is even more useful a plant than we had ever suspected. For more news and updates on the state of the CBD-terpene therapy, stay tuned. In the meanwhile, check out other recent studies on CBD here.
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