News that an Austrian hospital using medical cannabis to treat patients with COVID-19 has yielded positive results is spurring investor interest in Incannex Healthcare (ASX: IHL), according to the Australian drug developer.
News has been circulating online that doctors at the Klagenfurt Clinic in the country’s south, near the border of Slovenia, have been using cannabidiol (CBD) oil on COVID-19 patients in the intensive care unit over the course of three weeks.
Reports claim the trial has shown promising results including reduced inflammation and quicker recovery times.
“We have seen that the inflammation parameters in the blood go down, and people leave the hospital faster than the comparison group. CBD supports the immune system,” Klagenfurt Clinic head of intensive care Dr Rudolf Likar was quoted as saying to local radio station Radio Kärnten.
Reports of promising results from CBD treatment
While the alleged research is based on media articles and not published scientific papers at this stage, an Incannex spokesperson said it seems to be getting investors excited about CBD’s potential.
“Recent enthusiasm in Incannex as an investment may be to do with news of Austria’s Klagenfurt Clinic (an 1,800-bed hospital) treating COVID-19 patients with CBD and reporting good patient outcomes with few side effects,” he told Small Caps.
According to reports, the CBD dosage for patients was increased from 200 milligrams per day to 300mg/day with Dr Likar suggesting that CBD blocks the ACE2 receptor, through which the SARS-CoV-2 virus gains access to human cells and begins self-replicating.
CBD oil’s anti-inflammatory effects reportedly outperform those of other widely used drugs because CBD crosses the blood-brain barrier and staves off some of the dramatic neurological damage associated with “long COVID”.
“We are now evaluating the data and the data is looking relatively good. We’ll probably use this routinely now because it doesn’t have any side effects,” Dr Likar said.
Articles also mention similar research into the efficacy of CBD oil in helping to treat COVID-19 is underway in Israel.
Combination drug puts Incannex a step ahead
Meanwhile, Incannex has been evaluating the anti-inflammatory capabilities of its lead drug candidate IHL-675A against sepsis-associated acute respiratory distress syndrome (SAARDS) – the leading cause of death in patients who have contracted the COVID-19 virus.
IHL-675A is a combined formulation of CBD and the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine, which Incannex chief medical officer Dr Sud Agarwal said appears to be more efficacious than CBD treatment alone.
“While it is encouraging that the Austrian data showed that CBD may be a useful drug at reducing the progression of COVID sepsis to a full-blown cytokine storm, in our preclinical study, we found a significant synergistic effect when the CBD was combined with hydroxychloroquine,” he told Small Caps.
“It would be anticipated that IHL-675A would be significantly more efficacious than CBD alone,” Dr Agarwal added.
In November, the company revealed positive in vivo (animal) study results that showed IHL-675A outperformed CBD significantly across five inflammatory cytokines analysed.
Incannex is seeking an expedited pre-investigational new drug (IND) meeting with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to fast track the registration of its drug by requesting emergency use authorisation for patients with COVID-19. A process that was first announced in November, the company is awaiting advice from the FDA on the drug’s pathway forward.
Earlier this month, the company announced further results that expand IHL-675A’s indications to include chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, bronchitis and other inflammatory respiratory conditions.