Weill Cornell Medicine has secured an $11.6 million, five-year grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) to explore the impact of cannabis, including marijuana and its derivatives, on individuals living with HIV. While HIV can affect brain function, the interplay between cannabis and the virus remains uncertain. The study aims to shed light on whether cannabis worsens or mitigates HIV-related brain effects. Researchers will delve into brain regions like the hippocampus, examining gene activity at the cellular level to understand the relationship better. The findings may ultimately help improve HIV-related cognitive care and address cannabis use disorder in this population.”
With advancements in HIV treatment, the virus has become a manageable chronic condition. However, it can still inflict damage, including on cognitive functions, which affects up to half of those with HIV. Concurrently, many individuals living with HIV turn to cannabis, either recreationally or for symptom management, introducing the possibility of cannabis use disorder.
On the flip side, cannabis may offer potential benefits to this population, with its anti-inflammatory properties that could help counteract the chronic inflammation associated with HIV. This inflammation is believed to contribute to long-term health issues, including cognitive deficits.
The research team's focus on examining various brain regions, such as the hippocampus, at the cellular level using advanced single-cell technologies, is poised to provide invaluable insights into how cannabis interacts with HIV. This could pave the way for better prevention and treatment strategies for HIV-related cognitive deficits and cannabis use disorder.
Weill Cornell Medicine's groundbreaking $11.6 million research grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) marks a significant step forward in our understanding of the complex relationship between cannabis and HIV-related brain effects. This study, a part of NIDA's SCORCH program, holds the promise of uncovering whether cannabis exacerbates or mitigates cognitive challenges faced by individuals living with HIV.