Another preclinical study demonstrates antibiotic potential of CBD

Another preclinical study demonstrates antibiotic potential of CBD



Kavaliauskas P, et al. Abstract 2831. Presented at: ASM Microbe; June 9-13, 2022; Washington, D.C.

Kavaliauskas reports no relevant financial disclosures.

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WASHINGTON — Another preclinical study has added evidence that cannabidiol, or CBD, may have potential as an antibiotic, researchers said at ASM Microbe.

Prior research has shown that CBD, the main non-psychoactive component in cannabis, has activity against gram-positive bacteria, including resistant strains of Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus pneumoniae and Enterococcus faecalis.

CBD and CBD oil_Adobe

CBD is a promising candidate as an antimicrobial compound that targets emerging and multidrug-resistant pathogens. Source: Adobe Stock.

Last year, a study published in Communications Biology showed for the first time that CBD could also kill a subset of gram-negative bacteria, including Neisseria gonorrhoeae.

“We have a long-lasting interest in the search of novel antimicrobial hits for further drug development,” Povilas Kavaliauskas, MSc, a research associate at Weill Cornell Medicine, told Healio. “We have recently developed a small molecule library that contained CBD as one of the investigational compounds. While screening this library on multidrug-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, we got a promising hit.”

Kavaliauskas and colleagues tested CBD’s activity against MRSA and vancomycin-intermediate S. aureus (VISA) strains selected to represent major emerging multidrug resistance mechanisms.

According to the researchers, pure CBD (98.6%) demonstrated good and selective antimicrobial activity (with minimal inhibitory concentrations [MICs] between 2 to 4 µg/mL) against all tested MRSA and VISA strains and was comparable or greater than vancomycin (MICs between 1 to 2 and 4 µg/mL, respectively). The researchers said the antimicrobial activity of CBD was not impacted by the pre-existing resistance phenotype in S. aureus.

Kavaliauskas acknowledged that CBD, being a cannabinoid, does raise some skepticism from the general population.

“As scientists, our goal is to provide the translational preclinical data that could benefit patients and especially those that have extensively drug-resistant infections,” Kavaliauskas said. “We are now seriously investigating CBD as an antimicrobial, and currently, CBD is one of the major hits for our hit-to-lead optimization pipeline.”

Kavaliauskas said that by using synthetic organic chemistry approaches, the researchers are using CBD as a key molecule to develop novel CBD-based small molecules with even more promising activity against emerging gram-positive pathogens. Currently, they are investigating the in-vivo efficacy of this investigational CBD formulation in mouse models.

“CBD and possibly other nonpsychoactive cannabinoids could be potentially explored as a valuable pharmacophore for the development of novel antimicrobial compounds targeting emerging and MDR pathogens,” Kavaliauskas said.


Blaskovich MAT, et al. Commun Biol. 2021;doi:10.1038/s42003-020-01530-y.

Kavaliauskas P, et al. Abstract 2831. Presented at: ASM Microbe; June 9-13, 2022; Washington, D.C.