Synthetic Cannabidiol Explored As Potential Topical Antibiotic Interview with:

Dr Mark Blaskovich PhD Institute for Molecular Bioscience's Centre for Superbug Solutions The University of Queensland In collaboration with Botanix Pharmaceuticals Ltd

Dr. Blaskovich

Dr Mark Blaskovich PhD
Institute for Molecular Bioscience’s Centre for Superbug Solutions
The University of Queensland
In collaboration with Botanix Pharmaceuticals Ltd What is the background for this study?  

Response: Botanix is a company that has been developing topical formulations of CBD for treatment of skin diseases such as atopic dermatitis and acne, based on its reported anti-inflammatory properties. However, these diseases are also associated with bacterial infection, so they were interested in looking at potential antimicrobial activity, as there are some previous literature reports suggesting it is active. They contacted us to do some more in-depth investigations. What are the main findings? 

Response: We used standard microbiological characterization – broth microdilution assays –  to assess activity against panels of bacteria, and found CBD to be effective against a wide range of Gram-positive bacteria, but not Gram-negative or fungi. Importantly, it was effective against G+ve strains that were highly resistant to existing antibiotics. We also looked at its propensity to cause development of resistance, and found that this was also very low compared to other antibiotics. We also showed it was effective at killing bacteria within biofilms. Most our studies were in vitro (in test tubes), but a first in vivo study in a skin infection model in mice (done externally by Charles River) did show efficacy. What should readers take away from your report?

Response: Cannabidiol has potential as an antibiotic, but it’s still too early to say whether it will work at treating real infections in humans. Don’t self-medicate if you think you have an infection – see a doctor and use proven antibiotics. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?

Response: We don’t know yet how it is killing bacteria – it is not a simple membrane disruption as we first thought. If it was a novel mechanism of action, that would be even more exciting!

We also need to look at more in vivo models to see how likely it will be to work at treating real infections.

Disclosures: This study was partially funded by Botanix, and I am a consultant to Botanix. 


American Society for Microbiology.2019  “Cannabidiol is a powerful new antibiotic 


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