Marijuana company Incannex Healthcare (ASX:IHL) says its COVID-19 treatment performed well in the lab against sepsis associated acute respiratory distress syndrome, or SAARDS, a cause of death in patients with the illness.

The testing was in vitro, or a test tube study, and followed a previous mouse study.

Lab and animal studies are useful starting points for future drugs, but just 10 per cent make the leap into humans and just 7 per cent of those become an approved drug.

The Incannex study looked at what concentrations of cannabidiol (CBD) and hydroxychloroquine, a drug that has been discredited as a COVID-19 treatment by multiple human studies, work against cytokine production, the body’s dangerous immune response to the new illness.

The company said very high concentrations of CBD and hydroxychloroquine completely stopped cytokine production.

“The potent anti-inflammatory activity of both CBD and hydroxychloroquine is encouraging for the development of IHL-675A,” said Incannex chief scientific officer Dr Mark Bleackley.

“Identifying the optimal combination of CBD and HCQ will contribute to the design of an IHL-675A fixed dose combination product.”

Persisting with Trump treatment

Hydroxychloroquine was promoted by US President Donald Trump in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic as a treatment, when lab testing indicated it might be effective.

But multiple human studies have shown that hydroxychloroquine is potentially harmful to COVID-19 patients and no more effective than the standard care.

Research into whether marijuana strains can help with COVID-19 or its symptoms are still in the earliest stages. Some data suggests they it can reduce inflammation but it is much too soon to draw conclusions about whether it will also work in humans.

Nevertheless, Incannex is pushing ahead with both compounds, planning a second animal study to develop a drug combining both.

In other news:

Visioneering Technologies (ASX:VTI) reduced its half year loss to $5.2m but revenue slipped 12 per cent to $2m.

Neuren Pharmaceuticals (ASX:NEU) reduced its half year loss to $4.8m. It has an ongoing Phase 3 trial, fully funded by a partner, and four other programs either in or soon to start Phase 2 studies on its books.