A group of scientists, led by Jamaican cancer researcher Dr. Henry Lowe, have uncovered a hopeful breakthrough in the in-vitro treatment of the hepatitis C virus (HCV)—using cannabis-derived cannabidiol (CBD) oil. Dr. Lowe’s team, working from the University of the West Indies (UWI) announced that CBD is destructive to the virus.
The HCV is blood borne and most prevalent in communities where sharing drug injections is common; it spreads through inadequate sterilization of medical equipment in hospital settings or through sexual contact. There is currently no vaccine for HCV, although the World Health Organization (WHO) does recommend education, counseling, and antiviral therapy for those already affected, along with regular monitoring for liver failure, liver cirrhosis, and cancer. WHO estimates that 130-150 million people globally have chronic HCV and hepatitis C-related liver diseases claims around 700,000 people each year.
“This discovery, which has fantastic potential for the future, is especially crucial for people in developing countries, because there is a drug which was developed for hepatitis C treatment, but it’s over $85,000 per treatment, and very few people in the developing world can afford this,” Dr. Lowe told the Jamaica Observer in a recent interview. “So it is very important that we find less expensive means of treatment, and that is why this discovery and its potential to manage this disease is so important.”
In America, medical-grade CBD oil can run anywhere between $10 to thousands of dollars. For patients in developing countries, this form of treatment is not viable because the manufacturing, distribution, and administration of CBD treatment would be too expensive for most patients.
The challenges of treating patients, however, should completely distract from the incredible discovery of the effects CBD has on eradicating the hepatitis C virus. This groundbreaking new study could create avenues where there was none before, and help pave the way for easier access to a much-needed treatment.