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PlantEXT and the Agricultural Research Organization (ARO-Israel) Isolate Cannabis Compounds That Potentially Decrease Inflammation in the Cytokine Storm of COVID-19

Toronto, Ontario, Canada – WEBWIRE

Recent evidence suggests that certain cannabis compounds may have anti-inflammatory activity in lung epithelial cells, reducing expression of COVID-19 virus receptor in these cells, while not inducing inflammation in immune cells. PlantEXT (, an established global leader in pharmaceutical cannabis research and development, is pleased to announce that the Company is actively exploring the use of pharmaceutical cannabis as an effective therapy in mitigating the symptoms of the COVID-19 virus. The Company is also investigating the potential of pharmaceutical cannabis to both prevent and treat Covid-19.
Provisional evidence based on PlantEXT funded research was recently submitted to a scientific journal by Israel’s Agriculture Research Organization (ARO - This research demonstrated that a specific combination of cannabis compounds had a profound and targeted effect on lung epithelial cells, an effect that has the potential to help combat Covid-19 infections (published as a preprint, publication in a peer reviewed scientific journal pending).
With over 41 million cases confirmed around the world, COVID-19 has been typically characterized by a “cytokines storm”. Patients experience higher serum levels of the pro-inflammatory cytokines ‘IL-8’ and ‘IL-6’, leading to lung inflammation, and possible respiratory failure.
Research at the ARO, commissioned and financed by PlantEXT, supported by pre-clinical studies in collaboration with Israel’s MEIR Medical Center found that the corticosteroid dexamethasone caused an 80% reduction of IL-8, IL-6 and TNF-alfa (another pro inflammatory cytokine), when applied to biopsies of colon tissue taken from Inflammatory Bowel Disease patients. As well, comparable or better results with respect to IL-6 and IL-8 reductions were obtained using certain cannabis-derived substances.
“In addressing the uncertainties of the novel COVID-19 virus, what has remained clear from the onset of the outbreak has been the threat it poses to one’s respiratory system, with those infected suffering from what has been referred to as a ‘cytokines storm’-like syndrome,” Professor Hinanit Koltai (named one of Forbes’ 50 Most Influential Women in Israel) of the ARO, working in collaboration with the PlantEXT Management team, explained. “We have examined the activity of cannabis on components of the immune system and lung epithelia in vitro and we were able to isolate, for the first time ever, a certain combination of cannabis compounds having an acute effect on these cell types (epithelial), that may help in combating the SARS-CoV-2 virus infection and the COVID-19 disease.”
With our experience in the reduction of IL-6 and IL-8 cytokines in colonic cells, we investigated the effects of certain cannabis derived compounds on lung epithelial cells, which are thought to play a substantial role in the creation of the “cytokines storm” seen with Covid-19. The team then compared and contrasted the application of dexamethasone versus cannabis extracts on those cells in vitro.
Under the same in vitro (cell culture) conditions, the team found that a number of cannabis compounds and their combinations effectively reduced lung epithelial inflammation when measured by IL-8 and IL-6 levels. In some cases, the reduction in IL-8 and IL-6 levels resulted in levels found in non-inflamed cells and in some cases was better than that of dexamethasone. 
However, when we initially started research on the effects of cannabis on IL-6 and IL-8 in different tissues, and specifically in immune cells, we became very concerned since we found that cannabis caused up to a 400 fold increase in the production of IL-6 and IL-8 in the macrophages, the early “conductor” of inflammation. This would suggest a potential harmful effect of unprocessed cannabis on the inflammation associated with Covid-19. Contrasting this, when only dexamethasone was used to treat immune cells, the team found just a minor to no reduction in inflammation levels, as measured by IL-8 and IL-6 levels, and certainly not markedly increased levels. PlantEXT is very pleased to report that Professor Koltai and her team at the ARO have been able to isolate certain patent pending compounds derived from cannabis that do not increase IL-6 and IL-8 levels in the macrophages, and selectively decrease these pro inflammatory cytokines at the lung epithelium in vitro.
The Company is also investigating the potential of pharmaceutical cannabis to both prevent and treat Covid-19 associated lung inflammation. PlantEXT will continue this research (pending final government approval) with the hope and aim of a resulting treatment and product that will reduce lung inflammation in Covid-19 patients.
PlantEXT will also continue to initiate cannabis based, basic science research as it applies to health, in the areas of inflammation, infections, and cancer.

This latest announcement builds upon the already-robust legacy of PlantEXT and its diverse pipeline of pharmaceutical products under development, aimed at treating a wide range of inflammation-related medical conditions.

The company has recently appointed to the position of Chief Executive Officer, Willy Kruh, former Global Chair of Consumer & Retail at KPMG International.

Mr. Kruh stated that “It is a privilege to join the Team at PlantEXT, and most certainly on the backdrop of these exciting, unprecedented findings. We are privileged to have funded and exclusively commercialized both the research and the resulting product. Our partners at ARO have filed a provisional patent, with a 20-year license and once our ongoing research has completed, we plan to make the results available for peer-reviewed scientific publication.”
Mr. Kruh alongside Executive Leadership at PlantEXT and ARO remain confident the validated data obtained in vitro will serve as the basis for human clinical trials, for the treatment of COVID-19 patients and for the alleviation of and indeed building resiliency against the ‘cytokine storm syndrome’ in the near future.

About PlantEXT
PlantEXT is an Israeli company focused on developing and commercializing the world’s most effective medical and pharmaceutical cannabis formulations for the treatment of inflammation related medical conditions. PlantEXT has entered into a strategic partnership with the State of Israel’s Agricultural Research Organization (ARO) to develop and commercialize a treatment for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). PlantEXT is in the process of developing and commercializing an extensive line of cannabis-based therapeutic dermatology products for the treatment of various inflammatory conditions. PlantEXT also operates independent research and development facilities near Tel Aviv, where the company is developing a pipeline of anti-inflammatory products supported by pre-clinical and clinical research.
For more information, please visit
About the Agriculture Research Organization (ARO)
Located at the Volcani Center near Tel-Aviv, the Agriculture Research Organization (ARO) is the country’s leading cannabis research powerhouse, with a repository of IP developed by a team of scientists, whose research has identified multiple effective compositions of cannabinoids and terpenes over the past years. The organization serves as one of the largest and most advanced government-backed research centers globally, with six institutes specializing in Plant Sciences, Animal Sciences, Plant Protection, Soil, Water and Environmental Sciences, Agricultural Engineering, and Postharvest and Food Sciences.
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 Willy Kruh

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