Researchers from Australia have shown that synthetic cannabidiol (CBD) my kill bacteria responsible for gonnorhea, meningitis and Legionnnaires disease, paving the way for it to become a more 'natural' antibiotic.

The research was the product of a collaboration between The University of Queensland and Botanix Pharmaceuticals Limited. It could open the door for a new class of antibiotics for resistant bacteria--the first in 60 years.

Dr. Mark Blaskovich is a UQ Institute for Molecular Bioscience's Associate Professor involved with the research. He said they found that CBD, which is the nonpsychoactive component of cannabis, can penetrate a wide group of bacteria. This includes Neisseria gonorrhoea, which causes gonorrhea.

Dr. Blaskovichsaid this is the first time CBD has been shown to kill some types of Gram-negative bacteria. Gram-negative bacteria have an additional outer membrane that makes it harder for traditional antibiotics to penetrate in an attempt to destroy the bacteria.

Gonorrhea is a bacteria that is good at developing resistance. It's the second most-common sexually-transmitted infection in Australia, and because of its resistance, no single reliable antibiotic to treat it exists.

The research also showed the efficacy of CBD against more Gram-positive bacteria than was previously thought. This includes positive efficacy against antibiotic-resistant pathogens like MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or 'golden staph')

The theory is that cannabidiol is good at breaking down the slimy build-up of bacteria (biofilms). The biofilms help bacteria like MRSA survive typical antibiotic treatments.

Dr. Blaskovich's team discovered that the CBD had a low resistance in bacteria even when they sped up potential development during their testing period. He's not sure how the cannabidiol bursts the outer cell membranes of harmful bacteria, but it does, and this adds to it's efficacy and low resistance build-up.

In manipulating the chemical analogs of CBD, they found potential for new antibiotics classes. This occurred when they slightly changed the CBD molecular structure and found them also active in fighting the bacteria.

No new molecular classes of antibiotics for Gram-negative infections have been discovered and approved since the 60s, and with new analogs of CBD, there may be a more 'natural' way to fight the growing global threat of antibiotic resistance.

For more information, you can view a brief video here.

image: Paulynn/Shutterstock