CBD and THC will be tested against HIV-induced dementia

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  • Texas Biomed will test THC and CBD-based therapies against neurological disorders caused by HIV. Research will help develop better therapies for patients with HIV and neurocognitive disorders.


    The National Institutes of Health (NIH) awarded Professor Mahesh Mohan, DVM, Ph.D., and his collaborators more than $ 3.5 million over five years to study the effects of cannabinoids on neurocognitive disorders associated with the virus human immunodeficiency (HIV). This research project aims to assess whether delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Cannabidiol (CBD), alone or in combination, can potentially modify DNA methylation, a biological process that can create a change in DNA expression of certain genes.

    Test for CBD and THC for HIV-related dementia

    Using Indian rhesus macaques with the simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV), the equivalent of HIV in monkeys, researchers will be able to study whether changes in DNA methylation levels of genes have an impact on the inflammation in the brain, which is the underlying cause of HAND. Understanding these fundamental biological processes will allow scientists to create better treatment options. Researchers will also study whether JWH133, a synthetic cannabinoid (CB), affects DNA methylation and could serve as an alternative therapeutic intervention.

    “We are focusing on the neuroinflammation that affects the brain even in patients on antiretroviral therapy (ART). There are a few mechanisms that fuel this inflammation, but we want to look at immune cells in the blood and cerebrospinal fluid at different stages of SIV infection, ”said Dr. Mohan, principal investigator of the study. “Cannabinoids have shown great promise in the past for the treatment of neurological disorders; so we want to see if they can have any therapeutic effects in HIV-positive patients with HAND”.

    50% of people with AIDS suffer from this dementia

    Three decades ago, AIDS was a devastating disease with no cure. As a result, the manifestations were more acute. Thanks to scientific advances over time, many of which are using models of AIDS in non-human primates, we now have the opportunity to treat many AIDS patients and increase their life expectancy. However, this lays bare the more chronic effects of HIV infection, especially those of the neurocognitive variety.

    In particular, HAND is a major comorbidity that affects 50% of patients infected with HIV who receive antiretroviral therapy. This disorder affects brain function, causing difficulty in paying attention, concentrating, making decisions and remembering. According to Dr Mohan, evidence shows that neuroinflammation persists in HIV-positive patients on ART and is a major contributor to HAND.

    However, little is known about the molecular mechanisms behind inflammation. By separating cells from the blood, cerebrospinal fluid, and brain, researchers can take a closer look at the cellular changes that lead to neuroinflammation. In addition, these studies will use metabolomics, microbiome profiling, PET / CT imaging, and techniques recently developed at Texas Biomed to assess the impact of cannabinoids on cognitive function and neuroinflammation.

    “We think we will have very interesting results. Our study will allow researchers to better understand the factors that underlie HAND, and potentially lead to the development of more cannabinoid-based therapies, ”said Dr Mohan. “It is important to find the best therapeutic approach, whether it is a single drug, a combination regimen of cannabinoids or a synthetic cannabinoid drug,” said Dr. Mohan.

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