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Avi Priel, PhD

Avi Priel, PhD

Grant Status

Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Grant Type
Brause Family Initiative for Quality of Life Grant

Project Title
Cancer Pain and Medical Cannabis: Defining the Pain Pathway Target of Cannabinoids

Tumor Types

Research Topics
Cancer Pain, Cannabinoids, Clinical and Translational Research, Drug Mechanisms and Development, Inflammation and Cancer, Pain Management, Quality of Life

About the Investigator:

Dr. Avi Priel is an expert in molecular pharmacology, the biophysics of ion channels, and receptors of the pain pathway. He received his BSc and MSc degrees from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, and his PhD in Neuroscience from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. During his postdoctoral research in Pain Pharmacology at the University of California at San Francisco, he was supported by a prestigious Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation Fellowship (2008-2011). In 2011, he returned to Israel, and he is now an Associate Professor in the Institute for Drug Research at the Hebrew University. Since then, he has been developing pharmacological approaches for finding novel painkillers that will replace opioids.

About the Research:

Cancer pain, resulting from tumor metastasis or chemotherapy, dramatically hampers the quality of life of
cancer patients. This excoriating pain erupts even when the patient is medicated with painkillers. The primary analgesics used to treat cancer pain are members of the opioid family. Although these drugs help treat cancer pain in its early stages, the need to either increase the dosage or switch to a more potent opioid results in devastating adverse effects. Respiratory depression and opiate addiction are highly prevalent side effects of opiate treatment in cancer patients suffering from cancer pain. Thus, the discovery of novel painkillers that selectively affect the pain system and provide prolonged pain alleviation is an unmet medical need for treating cancer pain.

Recently, medical cannabis has been used to treat cancer pain while avoiding opioids. However, medical
cannabis includes many plant sub-types with different pain alleviation properties. Cannabinoids are the active components of medical cannabis, and it is critical to determine which cannabinoids are essential for blocking pain and how these compounds induce pain relief. The goal of Dr. Priel’s research is to define the phytocannabinoids’ pain relief mechanism and to provide a road map for developing phytocannabinoid-based, non-opioid analgesics to treat cancer pain.


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