The Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research (CMCR) at University of California San Diego School of Medicine, the nation’s oldest cannabis-focused research center, announced a $3 million in research grants to investigate new applications of cannabis for a number of novel medical applications.

Five-based California Teams Receive Funding

Five California-based teams will receive funding to study the efficacy and safety of medical cannabis as both a supplementary or alternative treatment for schizophrenia, rheumatoid arthritis, insomnia, alcohol dependence and anxiety linked to anorexia.

The Science

Cannabis plants produce compounds called cannabinoids—the most commonly known are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), its principal psychoactive agent, and cannabidiol (CBD), which has been linked to reduced pain, anxiety, and inflammation in previous studies.

The Five Grants

Funded by California Proposition 64 passed back in 2016, the grants include the following:

Effects of Cannabidiol versus Placebo as an Adjunct to Treatment in Early Psychosis

The $825,000 grant was awarded to Kristin Cadenhead, MD, professor of psychiatry at UC San Diego School of Medicine, and colleagues, who will explore whether medical cannabis could serve as an alternative treatment for patients facing early psychosis, a time when traditional treatments, such as antipsychotic medications, are moderately effective but produce debilitating side effects.

Therapeutic Response of Cannabidiol in Rheumatoid Arthritis

The $825,000 grant was awarded to Veena Ranganath, MD, a rheumatologist at UCLA Medical Center. Ranganath’s research focuses on CBD’s use an anti-inflammatory agent, an application she hopes to exploit in treating rheumatoid arthritis, a chronic autoimmune condition that affects an estimated 1.5 million persons in the United States.

Cannabidol for Sedative/Hypnotic-sparing Management of Insomnia in Adults

The $825,000 grant was awarded to Mariana Cherner, PhD, professor of psychiatry at UC San Diego School of Medicine, and colleagues, who will investigate whether CBD might be a viable alternative for sleeping pills among patients with chronic sleep disorders.

“Sleeping pills are moderately safe but they can also be habit-forming and they do have side effects, particularly in older people,” said Grant. “So many people are prescribed sleeping pills so there’s good reason to look for something that might be safer and not have that side effect profile.”

Cannabidiol as a Strategy to Treat Alcohol Dependence

The $300,000 grant was awarded to Giordano de Guglielmo, PhD, assistant adjunct professor in the UC San Diego Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, and colleagues. This study is the only one of the five using an animal model. It will look at the role CBD might play in reducing alcohol cravings and withdrawal syndromes among alcohol-addicted rats, with findings perhaps applicable to future human research.

The Role of Cannabidiol in Regulating Meal Time Anxiety in Anorexia Nervosa

The $300,000 grant was awarded to Emily Gray, MD, associate clinical professor of psychology at UC San Diego School of Medicine, and colleagues, who will explore whether CBD can help reduce a core symptom of anorexia—anxiety about food—and whether or not that reduction helps patients also reduce their food aversions overall.

Lead Research/Investigator

Igor Grant, MD, Distinguished Professor, Department of Psychiatry and CMCR Director

Call to Action: Contact director Igor Grant for more additional information.

Source: UC San Diego News Center

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