Dr. Robert Rock: We are using human brain tissue, and trying to answer the question as to whether a class of this compound call cannabinoids whether or not they have a beneficial effect on HIV within the brain.
And specifically there is a macrophage within the brain that seems to be the major driver of the inflammation within the brain in HIV.
And we're looking at whether these particular compounds can affect these cells and diminish the amount of inflammation, therefore helping reduce the amount of damage within the brain itself.
Currently, the state of HIV is such that most folks are on antiretroviral therapy, and the virus is under control, but we're seeing, as folks are living longer and healthier lives, they're having a lot of kind of long term effects, which include neurocognitive disorders.
And so this is a way of trying to address how to tackle that specifically by using a class of compounds that may have an effect above and beyond what the antivirals are doing.
With our invitro studies, we found that these specific class of cannabinoids can blunt the amount of inflammatory markers expressed by the macroglial cells, the human macrophage within the brain, as well as reduce expression of HIV that are actively affecting these cells, and as well as reducing the migration of these cells.
And so it certainly plays a role in affecting these particular immune cells and we think that with further study that we may be able to kind of tease out other effects.
So our current lab is focused again on invitro stuff, and so there is only a limited amount of things we can do with that model.
So really the next step is collaborating with other research groups that have different models whether the mouse or monkey to see if this translates into a real world benefit.
With the help of medicinal chemists, in terms of being able to find compounds that are even more beneficial we can kind of take this to the next level to see if it's translating something that eventually could make it into human medicine.