The Colombian company Pideka and the University of Antioquia are developing a cannabis extract aimed at preventing the SARS-CoV-2 virus which causes COVID-19; the latest tests to be carried out achieved an effectiveness of 62%.
In an interview with Forbes, the company's technical director Martha Liliana Vega explained it was initially ascertained that the cells on which the tests were carried out were not damaged by substances diluted by one, 10 and 100 millilitres of cannabis extract. These cell cultures were subsequently confronted with the virus, obtaining positive results of 62%.
This result isn’t bad considering chloroquine is 73% effective according to the pharmaceutical company. As pointed out by the Spanish Agency for Medicines and Health Products (AEMPS) in May, although the effectiveness of chloroquine as an antiviral came only from in vitro studies (as is the case thus far with Pideka’s cannabis extract) and a series of patients with limited samples and methodology, this substance was already widely used despite side effects of cardiac rhythm and neuropsychiatric disorders. Back in June, the AEMPS warned that tests with chloroquine / hydroxychloroquine in exposed and infected people did not give positive results, leaving the substance to be tested as a preventative drug on those who hadn’t yet had contact with the virus.
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There’s still a long way to go with regard to the cannabis extract developed by Pideka. The director of the company details that pre-clinical and clinical studies are still pending so that a medical product can be developed from this cannabis extract, and there is still no date for the study in humans. But the company already has in mind that derivative products could include anti-inflammatory drugs, preventive drugs against the virus, and also disinfectant products for use in private homes, hospitals and industrial facilities.
The company have requested help from the Colombian Government to facilitate the tests, and they’re also in contact with the Colombian National Institute of Health and different universities besides Antioquia. In her interview with Forbes, the company director stated that they’re also in talks with Spanish agencies but affirms they can’t give more information for the moment.
The announcement of the preliminary results of the cannabis extract to prevent COVID-19 has been made public at the same time that the Colombian Government (through the Intersectorial Commission of Strategic Projects) declared several medicinal cannabis companies in Colombia as projects of national strategic interest (PINE), including PharmaCielo, Khiron and Clever Leaves. This will allow them to speed up certification, licensing and permitting processes. The objective: to position Colombia as a leader in the medical cannabis market. However, Pideka does not appear on that list of benefitting companies.
Since October 2019, Pideka has been a subsidiary of the American Ikänik Farms, a California-based company which is part of the IKNK Brands corporation, chaired by Brian Bacca and whose International Director is Borja Sanz. From Madrid, Sanz is a member of the Sanz family, owner of International Jewellery Group, which counts Spanish and Moroccan royalty among its renowned clients according to IKNK’s corporate website. The corporation currently has cannabis plantations in Colombia and California, where it also grows cannabis for recreational purposes. Pideka is the pharmaceutical branch of IKNK, licensed for indoor cultivation at a plantation located near Bogotá.
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