According to a report published by the Journal of Leukocyte Biology, new research shows that compounds related to THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, appear to weaken HIV-1 infections. The study also suggests that killing HIV-1 in this manner may actually strengthen current anti-retroviral therapies making them more effective.
"The synthetic compounds we used in our study may show promise in helping the body fight HIV-1 infection,'" said Dr. Yuri Persidsky, a researcher involved in the work from the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at Temple University School of Medicine. "As compounds like these are improved further and made widely available, we will continue to explore their potential to fight other viral diseases that are notoriously difficult to treat."
In their discovery, scientists used a cell culture model to infect human macrophages with HIV-1 and added the synthetic THC compounds to activate the cannabinoid type 2 (CB2) receptor in white blood cells. Samples from the culture were taken to see if the replication of the HIV virus was decreased. The researchers observed diminished HIV growth and a possible protective effect from some HIV-1 complications.