Toronto Researchers to Explore Effects of Smoked Cannabis in HIV/AIDS TORONTO, Oct. 9 /CNW/ - The Community Research Initiative of Toronto (CRIT) and St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto announced today the start of the first Canadian study evaluating the therapeutic effects of smoked cannabis in HIV/AIDS. The study represents more than two years of development and planning with Health Canada, the scientific and HIV/AIDS communities. The goal of this pioneering research project is to create scientific knowledge about the safety and efficacy of smoked marijuana and its ability to increase appetite in patients with HIV/AIDS," says Principal Investigator, Dr. Kevin Gough, Medical Director, HIV Service, St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto. Unlike previous cannabis studies, the Toronto team is conducting the research on an outpatient basis. The study will also test the safety of short-term exposure to different strengths of cannabis, and how cannabis interacts with HIV medications. Secondary areas of analysis will include the role of smoked marijuana on nausea, pain, mood and neuro-cognitive function. The results of the pilot study will help determine the design of a larger, multi-centre, clinical trial across Canada. "There is anecdotal evidence suggesting that using marijuana therapeutically may increase appetite, provide pain relief or reduce nausea," commented CRIT spokesperson, Derek Thaczuk. "Only when the safety and effectiveness of medicinal marijuana is demonstrated in rigorous, carefully- designed scientific studies, can it be accepted by the medical community. Research of this nature is pivotal in understanding whether marijuana is a credible therapy in disease management, " he continued. The study is a placebo-controlled crossover design, meaning that all participants will receive cannabis containing different strengths of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) at different times including a placebo (no THC). THC is the component of cannabis known to cause the "high" people experience. THC is also thought to be responsible for cannabis' possible medical benefits (e.g. appetite stimulation). The study is being conducted by CRIT, a research organization that focuses on community-initiated research in the area of HIV/AIDS, in partnership with St. Michael's Hospital and the Canadian HIV Trials Network (CTN). St. Michael's Hospital is a Catholic teaching and research hospital, affiliated with the University of Toronto, specializing in heart and vascular disease, inner city health, trauma/neurosurgery, diabetes comprehensive care, minimal access therapeutics, and mobility disorders. CTN is a national organization that coordinates clinical trials in HIV/AIDS. The funding for this initiative has been provided by Health Canada. Co-investigators for this study include; Sergio Rueda (Community Research Initiative of Toronto), Dr. Joel Singer (Canadian HIV Trials Network), Dr.Tom Chin (St. Michael's Hospital), Dr. Ahmed Bayoumi (St. Michael's Hospital), Dr. Don Kilby (University of Ottawa), Pauline Darling (St. Michael's Hospital), Shelley Schwartzberg (St. Michael's Hospital), Scott Walker (Sunnybrook Health Science Centre) and Dr. Sean Rourke (St. Michael's Hospital).