Rambam Health Care Campus has opened a cannabis research center, focusing on the role of cannabis in intercellular communication in morbidity situations. Rambam Health Care Campus has established the Medical Cannabis Research and Innovation Center in its Research Division, led by Dr. Igal Louria-Hayon, head of the hospital’s Leukemia Research and Cancer Signaling Lab. The aim is to study the role of cannabinoids during communication between cells under various morbidity conditions. The center is supported by The Clinical Research Institute at Rambam (CRIR)—which is responsible for its infrastructure—and through joint research with pharmaceutical and cannabis companies from Israel and abroad that want to uncover the effects of cannabis on a variety of diseases. This knowledge will form the basis of the center’s cannabis clinical trials and subsequent cannabis-based treatments approved by the health authorities in Israel and around the world. Louria-Hayon and his team in the lab will be investigating whether cannabinoids can be affected by the use of cannabis-derived substances. "If we understand how cannabinoid components are used in intercellular interaction, we can use them to influence this communication in the event of a disease, disrupt it, or empower the communication to deliver desirable messages," says Louria-Hayon. Since many cancer patients also use cannabis to increase their appetite, improve their mood, and relieve pain during illness and treatment, Louria-Hayon and his team will study the effects of cannabis and other medications on these aspects as well. "We want to get to the point where cannabis research will not look any different from classical pharma research. If we do, I believe doctors will be much more comfortable prescribing plant-based therapy," he notes. It should also be noted that cannabis research is carried out in other departments, aside from the work being done by Louria-Hayon and his team. Rambam has also established a Cannabis Steering Committee, with the participation of high-level department managers, the CRIR, the Division of Economics and Marketing and more. In addition to the work in the laboratory, Louria-Hayon and his staff are also responsible for informing other clinician-scientists in the CRIR regarding the progress of the cannabinoid and cannabis research. "We are establishing a multidisciplinary network of physicians and researchers, who will work on research both independently and in collaboration with pharmaceutical companies. This ensures that the center will be able to provide answers to research questions in the field of cannabis from the cellular level to the level of human experiments,” he explains. In the photo: Dr. Igal Louria-Hayon. Photography: Pioter Fliter.
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