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Thursday, July 8, 2010

LSUHSC Awarded $4 Million To Understand Effect Of THC On HIV


LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans has been awarded a $4 million grant over five years by the National Institute on Drug Abuse of the National Institutes of Health to research the effect of THC on HIV. Patricia Molina, MD, PhD, Professor and Head of Physiology will be researching how cannabinoids, which are the main psychoactive component of marijuana, affect gene activity that affect how a person responds to HIV infection. "The expected results will have a profound impact on the potential development of targeted therapeutic interventions to ameliorate HIV disease progression," notes Dr. Molina.

There is a lot of speculation regarding the value of cannabinoids in the medical world. A number of studies have occurred in the last decade that attempted to prove one way or the other the medical benefits and uses of the drug. Dr. Molina will be heading up a "team of geneticists, microbiologists, pharmacologists, and physiologists to explore the mechanisms involved in the anti-inflammatory effects and suppression of viral replication associated with prolonged survival in a model of HIV". Dr. Molina's lab has been able to confirm, by a series of studies, the ability of cannabinoids to suppress inflammation and viral replication, but, the mechanisms responsible for this are not yet known.

The hypothesis will be tested with the following specific aims:
  • Demonstrate that chronic cannabinoid treatment decreases tissue inflammation
  • Identify the mechanisms of cannabinoid-induced suppression of inflammation
  • Examine the direct and indirect mechanisms by which cannabinoids decrease viral replication
The risks and benefits of marijuana use are not completely understood, the more research that takes place the better we will comprehend the value of the drug in a medical environment. Marijuana is a drug, that affects the brain on a chemical level, potentially affecting a person on a physiological level. It will be interesting to see what Molina's team determines.

Source:
Leslie Capo
Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center
MNT

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