Modified CBD molecules could help in the fight against skin disease

Modified CBD molecules could help in the fight against skin disease
© iStock/Gleti

Researchers have modified the cannabidiol compound (CBD) found in cannabis to try to improve the properties that fight against skin disease.

A partnership between the University of Cordoba and the University of Dundee has shown for the first time that CBD induces the expression of heme oxygenase 1 – an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory enzyme – in cells on the top layer of the skin, known as keratinocytes, by suppressing the BACH1 protein.

Researchers are yet to understand how CBD acts upon different skin cells in order to have beneficial, antioxidant effects.

CBD and the fight against skin disease

The researchers designed the new molecules to have much more potent antioxidants. These newly designed molecules feature double the antioxidant power as they inhibit the BACH1 protein as well as activating the NRF2 protein, which controls the way that certain genes are expressed. These specific genes help to protect cells against oxidative stress.

Professor Eduardo Muñoz, who is in charge of the BIO-304 Immunopharmacology and Molecular Virology research group at the University of Cordoba, said: “Once we described the whole working mechanism, we have continued our partnership, making modifications to the cannabidiol molecule in order to try to improve its properties that fight against skin diseases.

“When combining the inhibition of BACH1 with the activation of NRF2, the result is a very potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory response and better therapeutic effects.”

The researchers say the action mechanism is interesting for skin disease treatments such as atopic dermatitis and the rare disease epidermolysis bullosa. The team will now continue modifying the molecules in order to improve their properties and perform animal studies to understand its therapeutical potential for skin diseases and other inflammatory diseases.

Emerald Health Biotechnology and Innohealth Madrid (acquired by Evonik Industries AG) have also collaborated on this research.

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