ASX cannabis shares in spotlight amid COVID prevention research

Scientists are casting a wide net in the global fight to contain the pandemic.

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Man holding medical cannabis.

Image source: Getty images

Key points

  • ASX cannabis shares could benefit from new COVID-fighting research
  • Cannabidiol (CBD) has proven effective in mice
  • Researchers hope to launch human trials

ASX cannabis shares haven’t exactly shot the lights out over the past full year.

At all.

The Creso Pharma Ltd (ASX: CPH) share price, for example, is down 48% over the past 12 months.

Little Green Pharma Ltd (ASX: LGP) has done a bit better. But the ASX cannabis share is still down 17% since this time last year.

As for medicinal shareholders in marijuana cultivator Cann Group Ltd (ASX: CAN), they’ve watched the stock fall a painful 55%.

With this month’s sharp correction, the All Ordinaries Index (ASX: XAO) has given back much of its gains. But for some comparison, the index remains up 3.6% over the past full year.

With that said, ASX cannabis shares could be in for some healthy tailwinds down the line.

That is if breaking research pans out to show that cannabidiol (CBD), an active ingredient in cannabis, could help prevent COVID-19 infections.

Can CBD help prevent COVID infection?

While there’s no definitive answer yet, Live Science reports that research suggests CBD “could block the coronavirus“.

Not just any low potency CBD though. But rather “the kind of medical-grade … CBD used to treat seizure disorders”.

Should that prove out, it would certainly be welcome news to ASX cannabis shares involved in medicinal production.

Scientists involved in the study caution that CBD won’t be a silver bullet that will bring down the pandemic on its own.

However, according to Live Science:

The researchers are hopeful that the compound could be an additional tool in the fight against the SARS-CoV-2 virus — and perhaps other viruses. So far, the team has shown that the compound can help mice fight off COVID-19, and they’ve turned up suggestive evidence that it might be helping humans, too.

The study’s leader, Marsha Rosner, said, “We don’t know yet if CBD can prevent COVID, but we think our results provide a strong case for conducting a clinical trial.”

While a human clinical trial has yet to be formulated, there are some early promising signs.

According to Rosner, “We show that CBD can stop replication of SARS-COV2 in cells in a dish and that it acts at least up to 15 hours after infection, so that suggests it might be effective even at early times after viruses enter cells.”

ASX cannabis shares minnows in the global market

Medicinal marijuana has only been legally available in Australia since November 2016.

And with the past year’s sell-off, even the bigger ASX cannabis shares are minnows compared to some of their overseas peers in the United States and Canadian markets.

Cann Group, for example, has a market cap of $96 million. Little Green Pharma’s market cap stands at $107 million while Creso Pharma is valued at $101 million.

Certainly not blue-chips.

But if research pans out to show CBD can help stave off COVID infections, they could see some growth potential.

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The Motley Fool Australia's parent company Motley Fool Holdings Inc. has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.

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