A new CBG antibiotic study reports that cannabis plants produce an antibacterial compound that may prove important in the development of new medications. Specifically, the cannabinoid cannabigerol or CBG is antibacterial and protects against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).
Antibiotic Resistance: The Problem
According to health experts around the world, antibiotic resistance of pathogenic bacteria is among the most serious problems facing humanity. As well, it has been more than three decades since researchers have discovered a new class of antibiotics. Now, a team reports that CBG helped control MRSA infections in mice.
Although cannabis has been medicine for humans for centuries, it has mostly been relegated to the world of folk medicine. Modern scientists are only starting to explore how to use cannabis to treat and prevent disease.
Some research proves that cannabinoids can slow the growth of gram-positive bacteria, such as S. aureus, which causes staph infections on the skin and pneumonia. However, there was a lack of research on how cannabinoids might affect gram-negative bacteria, such as E. coli. Therefore, the team in this case aimed to trial the antibacterial properties of several cannabinoids against both gram-negative bacteria and MRSA.
The Cannabis Antibiotic Study
In this study, the team tested the antibacterial activity of 18 commercially available cannabinoids, or cannabis-derived molecules against MRSA. Among those were tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), (CBD), and CBG.
They also tested how the cannabinoids performed against surface biofilm prevention, and to kill dormant “persistor” MRSA. These are problematic from a health perspective because they are highly resistant to antibiotics.
The non-psychoactive CBG outperformed the other cannabinoids, so the team studied it further in the next phase. To do this, they synthesized mass quantities of CBG.
The researchers found that CBG targeted the cell membrane of drug-resistant MRSA. This prevented it from forming biofilms, microorganism communities that attach to surfaces. In fact, this property of the CBG destroyed both antibiotic-resistant cells and preformed biofilms.
Clinical findings in mice with MRSA infections supported these laboratory findings. The mice were treated with CBG, which performed as well as the powerful antibiotic vancomycin.
CBG targets the cell membrane of gram-positive bacteria, not gram-negative bacteria, which are protected by an additional outer membrane. However, paired with a drug that breaches that outer membrane, CBG can kill gram-negative bacteria by reaching its inner membrane.
The next step for the team are will be to improve the compound’s targeting specificity and reduce its potential toxicity.