Joao P. De Aquino, MD, assistant professor of psychiatry, has been awarded a federal grant to study the pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of oral and vaporized delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) among older adults.
The project will apply pharmacokinetics modeling and quantitative sensory testing (QST) — a psychophysical method to reliably assess pain in humans — toward understanding the relationship between analgesic effects of THC and the drug's metabolism among people aged 65 years or older.
De Aquino said this study will serve as a benchmark to characterize the effects of the main anti-nociceptive component of cannabis, among the fastest growing — and yet understudied — group of cannabinoid consumers. Results will inform future studies examining the risk/benefit ratio of cannabinoids among older adults, who are more likely than people in other age cohorts to use cannabis and its constituent cannabinoids for pain relief.
The project is funded by the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA).
De Aquino's research uses behavioral pharmacology, computerized psychophysics, and clinical trial approaches to develop novel therapeutics for pain and addiction.