The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) gifted a $1.37 million grant to three researchers from the University of Mississippi of Pharmacy for a study on using cannabis to reduce HIV-related pain.
“Clinicians have found that HIV-positive patients use cannabis more frequently than the uninfected population,” Jason Paris, one of three researchers in the study, said in a published statement. “When these patients are asked why, they often say that cannabis manages their chronic pain, which HIV predisposes them to, to a greater degree than currently available therapeutics.”
Paris is an assistant professor of pharmacology and specializes in aging and inflammation. Joining him in the research study is Nicole Ashpole, another assistant pharmacology professor specializing in pain and HIV. Both of the researchers are from the Department of BioMolecular Sciences.
“Cannabis has hundreds of compounds in it other than THC and CBD, and we don’t know much about how these compounds might affect the human body,” Ashpole said. “By exploring the effects of these compounds against HIV pain, we can gain insight into their potential benefits or risks in numerous other inflammatory disease states.”
Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) affects hundreds of thousands of people and is a virus that attacks a person’s immune system. Some of the symptoms associated with HIV can leave people dealing with uncomfortable pain forcing affected people to consume hemp wraps filled with cannabis to ease physical discomfort.
“Our preliminary data suggest that some of the nonpsychoactive compounds in cannabis can reduce inflammation in the central nervous system and HIV-related pain in vivo models,” Paris said.
Joining Paris and Ashpole in the research study is Mahmoud ElSohly, professor of pharmaceutics and drug delivery. ElSohly is also the director of the Marijuana Project at the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss).
“I feel very fortunate to be in an environment that is recognized as a stronghold in this field, and I’m delighted to think our ideas can continue to expand the research program,” Ashpole said.
Different researchers from the university have worked with cannabis since the late 60s. The purpose of their work has always been to explore the potential effects of cannabis.
The recently funded study will not be the first time researchers explore the effects between cannabis and people with medical conditions.
Last summer, a published study found a correlation between HIV-positive patients who consume cannabis daily and lower inflammation levels. Another study focusing on CBD found that the cannabinoid can help ease chronic pain and combat opioid use.
The researchers at Ole Miss are excited to start their study.
“Our research capability, our expertise, our knowledge in the areas of cannabis chemistry and production, our personnel, and facilities – everything reflects our deep commitment to excellence in cannabis research,” ElSohly said.