Marijuana-like Compound That Inhibits HIV in Late-Stage AIDS Could Lead to New Drug Treatment

Researchers from Mount Sinai School of Medicine have found a Marijuana-like compound that can directly inhibit a certain type of HIV.

Based on clinical studies, Cannabinoid drugs such as medical marijuana is used to treat pain, suppress weight loss and increase apetite, which are common side effects in advanced AIDS but they did not know exactly how it influenced the spread of the virus, according to co-author Cristina Costantino Ph. D., at the Department of Pharmacology and Systems Therapeutics at Mount Sinai School of Medicine.

The study found marijuana receptors on immune cells called cannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2 had a direct impact on the spread of the virus. By understanding these effects, researchers can develop an effective way of combating AIDS.

Marijuana-like Compound That Inhibits HIV in Late-Stage AIDS Could Lead to New Drug Treatment

HIV only infects immune cells such as Memory T-cells that carry CD4 receptors which induce the immune system of the body. It does so by using a signaling receptor called CXCR4. But by treating these cells with a cannabinoid compound, the CB2 receptors, the researchers discovered, were triggered causing the signaling process to be blocked, which in turn suppressed further infection of other CD4 cells.

By developing a drug that triggers only CB2 receptors, HIV can be suppressed thus slowing down the process of infection. As a result of the study, the team headed by Benjamin Chen, M.D., Ph. D., plans to use a mouse model of late-stage AIDS for them to test the impact of a certain cannabinoid drug that triggers CB2 receptors only.

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