Medical cannabis research just got a big boost as UC San Diego accepts $4.7 million donation to study CBD and autism. The donation represents the largest of its kind in U.S. history. More importantly, it could help shed light on how cannabis can be used to treat autism.
The University of California-San Diego (UCSD) announced the $4.7 million donation yesterday in a press release. According to the university, it is the biggest single donation toward medical marijuana research ever made in the United States.
The multi-million dollar gift came from the Ray and Tye Noorda Foundation, in partnership with the Wholistic Research and Education Foundation. The funds went to UCSD’s Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research (CMCR).
In particular, the money will fund research into how cannabis can be used to treat autism. The university said that researchers plan to use the funds to conduct broad multidisciplinary research. This will include “clinical, basic science, advanced mathematics and genetic techniques” aimed at better understanding the effects of medical cannabis on autism.
Autism affects somewhere around 1 in 68 children in the United States. But there are currently not very many treatment options. Many researchers are hopeful that cannabis could provide new forms of treatment. In particular, many think that CBD could help. And researchers at UCSD plan to use their new funds to study this further.
“UC San Diego is pleased to partner with the Noorda and Wholistic foundations to advance understanding of when and how medicinal cannabis works,” said vice chancellor of UCSD Health Sciences David A. Brenner.
He added that this new research could help “transform the lives of the many people for whom medicinal cannabis may make a meaningful difference in their quality of life.”
Autism remains a relatively little-understood condition. But what researchers do know suggests that cannabis could be an effective way to treat some of the underlying causes of autism.
According to UCSD, there is some evidence that low levels of serotonin may play a role in autism. Similarly, imbalances between different neurotransmitters could be key. Interestingly, CBD has shown promise at counteracting these types of imbalances. In particular, CBD could help control certain aspects of the central nervous system that could help those with autism.
“There are unconfirmed reports that cannabidiol could be helpful, but there are no careful studies to document either its benefit or its safety,” said Igor Grant, professor of psychiatry and director of CMCR.
“This gift will enable our researchers to develop and implement a translational program of research that pairs a clinical trial with detailed neurobehavioral observation, as well as basic science studies to determine if cannabidiol holds therapeutic promise, and if so, via what mechanisms.”
The $4.7 million gift to UCSD is part of ongoing efforts to research cannabis at the university. The school’s CMCR was created in 2000 to oversee and carry out sustained scientific research into medical marijuana. So far, the program has investigated cannabis’s effects on pain, muscle spasticity, and bipolar disorder. Now, researchers in the program will begin studying autism as well.
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