University of Saskatchewan professor to study marijuana as medicine

Photo of marijuana. File Photo / Getty Images

A new professor at the University of Saskatchewan (U of S) is aiming to gain more insight into the use of marijuana as a medicine for treating a wide range of diseases.

Robert Laprairie has joined the College of Pharmacy and Nutrition and has been appointed research chair in cannabinoids discovery and development.

Cannabinoids, such as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), are chemical substances found in marijuana. Laprairie’s research focuses on how these work by interacting with receptors in the human body.

The goal is to develop new synthetic cannabinoid compounds to treat addiction, pain, spasticity in multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, epilepsy, post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety.

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“This research is critically important to the health of Canadians because medical marijuana use is increasingly common,” Laprairie said in a press release.

Robert Laprairie is the research chair in cannabinoids discovery and development at the University of Saskatchewan. University of Saskatchewan / Supplied

“We want to gain more insight into the use of marijuana as a medicine for a wide range of diseases.”

The five-year research chair position was made possible through a partnership between GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).

“Our partnership with CIHR allows Canadian academic institutions to independently identify and select promising new science from investigators in Canada in a number of therapy areas where Canada is recognized for its leadership,” Amyn Sayani, director of research and development alliances for GSK, said in a press release.

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Laprairie holds a bachelors of science in biochemistry from the U of S in addition to a masters in neuroscience/pharmacology and a PhD in pharmacology from Dalhousie University.

Prior to his appointment, he was a postdoctoral fellow in the department of the molecular therapeutics at The Scripps Research Institute in the United States.

The assistant professor, who hails from Saskatoon, will also be teaching in the new doctor of pharmacy program.

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