New Orleans, LA – Patricia Molina, MD, PhD, Professor and Head of Physiology at 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 study how cannabinoids, the principal psychoactive component of marijuana, produce subtle changes in gene activity that affect how a person responds to HIV infection.
As the grant's principal investigator, Dr. Molina will lead 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. 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
While the ability of cannabinoids to suppress inflammation and viral replication has been reported by others and confirmed by ongoing studies in Dr. Molina's lab, the mechanisms involved are not known.
"The expected results will have a profound impact on the potential development of targeted therapeutic interventions to ameliorate HIV disease progression," notes Dr. Molina.
LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans educates Louisiana's health care professionals. The state's academic health leader, LSUHSC comprises a School of Medicine, the state's only School of Dentistry, Louisiana's only public School of Public Health, and Schools of Allied Health Professions, Nursing, and Graduate Studies. LSUHSC faculty take care of patients in public and private hospitals and clinics throughout the region. In the vanguard of biosciences research in a number of areas in a worldwide arena, the LSUHSC research enterprise generates jobs and enormous economic impact. LSUHSC faculty have made lifesaving discoveries and continue to work to prevent, advance treatment, or cure disease. To learn more, visit http://www.lsuhsc.edu and http://www.twitter.com/LSUHSCHealth.