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October 3, 2022

Avi Priel, PhD

Hebrew University

ICRF Brause Family Initiative for Quality of Life Grant Recipient

Cannabis for Pain Management Focus of Quality of Life Grant

Avi Priel, PhD, of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Alex Binshtok, PhD, also of the Hebrew University, spoke to ICRF about their new grant, The Brause Family Initiative for Quality of Life Grant, which will further investigate the role of medical cannabis and cancer pain. 

We are interested in hearing about your research on medical cannabis. Can you describe what you are working on?  

The primary use of medical cannabis is for treating pain. In Israel, cancer patients in different stages of the disease use medical cannabis to ease pain and increase their appetite (both are prevalent side effects of all cancer treatments). Although medical cannabis helps cancer patients handle the pain, we do not understand how it works. We recently found that cannabinoids (the unique compounds that comprise the medical cannabis) affect a pivotal protein only found in the pain pathway. In the ICRF-funded grant, we suggested dissecting the interaction between cannabinoids and the pain-pathway-specific protein. We hope that the finding of this study will be the platform for developing novel cannabinoid-based analgesics that could be administrated as drugs and not as plant extracts, which will lead to much more efficient and precise treatment of pain for cancer patients.

We hope that the finding of this study…will lead to much more efficient and precise treatment of pain for cancer patients. 

Professor Avi Priel

Are you looking to replace opioids?  

We think that replacing opioids is probably not achievable. We wish to reduce opioid use dramatically in treating chronic and cancer pain. Opioids will probably stay the drug of choice in medical settings such as operating rooms and in emergencies but should be reduced to a minimum in all other settings. Our novel findings point to other compounds that have a clinically proven effect on cancer pain as lead compounds for developing analgesics that will replace or at least diminish the need for opioids.

How has ICRF been supportive of your goals? 

ICRF is crucial for our overall goal of developing novel, non-addictive painkillers. To achieve this critical goal, we need to conduct cutting-edge research that, unfortunately, is expensive. The funding from ICRF enables us to pay stipends for talented students that perform the analysis and to buy the necessary equipment and materials for this study. We also want to take this opportunity to thank the ICRF for the generous funding of this project. 

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