College of Saskatchewan (USask) pharmacologist Robert Laprairie will use a Mind Canada analysis grant to find out how a mom’s use of hashish throughout being pregnant impacts the mind of the creating fetus she’s carrying.
Laprairie is one in every of 20 Canadian neuroscientists every awarded $100,000 right this moment as a part of Mind Canada’s Future Leaders in Canadian Mind Analysis Program.
“Following on Canada’s legalization of hashish in 2018, there may be merited concern that folks may search out hashish both for medicinal or leisure use throughout being pregnant,” stated Laprairie.
Whereas some folks consider hashish may also help cut back nausea throughout being pregnant, Laprairie stated, “There’s a general misconception among the public that because it’s natural, it’s safe. But it’s a drug just like any other drug.”
Laprairie, together with USask neuroscientist John Howland, and PhD college students Ayat Zagzoog and Tallan Black, is testing in a rat mannequin the speculation that continual publicity to hashish with excessive tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content material will lead to a big improve within the rat pups’ anxiousness and important discount in each cognition and sociability.
“We think we’re going to see a profound impact on how anxious the animals are, and how well they learn and adapt,” Laprairie stated.
Restricted knowledge accessible from human research present that infants uncovered ‘in utero’ to hashish smoke weigh much less and have shorter ft. Research involving rats have discovered injected cannabinoids result in elevated anxiousness, studying deficits, and metabolic modifications in pups. Nonetheless, injected hashish differs considerably from smoked whole-plant hashish, which comprises different psychoactive components past simply the THC.
“There’s some work done on it, but we need to delve deeper into it,” stated Laprairie.
The USask group will use a particular inhalation chamber to ship excessive THC and excessive cannabidiol smoke to pregnant rats for 21 days. Following the delivery of the pups, the researchers will observe their development, weight, and metabolic outcomes akin to how a lot fats they’ve. Once the pups are sufficiently old, the researchers will begin monitoring them for anxiety-like behaviours, studying and reminiscence duties, and finally things like predisposition to substance use problems.
Laprairie stated rats are an applicable mannequin organism due to the shut similarities to people.
“Their brains undergo most of the identical developmental processes, and their metabolism of the drug and the way their our bodies bodily reply to the drug are on the order of 95 per cent homologous with our human endocannabinoid system,” he stated.
The 2016 Nationwide Survey on Drug Use and Well being in the USA discovered that 4.9 per cent of pregnant ladies aged 15 to 44 years reported past-month hashish use. Whereas no straight comparable figures can be found for Canada, 2016 Statistics Canada figures confirmed that just about 17 per cent of girls of child-bearing age reported utilizing hashish within the earlier 12 months.
The USask analysis group hopes to have manuscripts prepared in summer time 2021 for submission to excessive affect journals.
“What we as a team are hoping for is that individuals, policymakers, Health Canada, and health regions will take note of the data we’ve published and integrate it into their policy to recognize and caution people about avoiding cannabis during pregnancy,” stated Laprairie.
“We’re creating many various cannabis-based medicines. And one of the necessary issues a few drugs is that you already know which populations it shouldn’t be utilized in.”
Laprairie is a member of the USask-led Cannabinoid Analysis Initiative of Saskatchewan, an interdisciplinary analysis group exploring the appliance of cannabinoids and hashish derivatives to people and animals, for well being, illness and problems.
Anchored by a $5-million reward from the Azrieli Basis, this system goals to construct the following era of mind science leaders in Canada. Funding for the Future Leaders in Canadian Mind Analysis program has been offered by Well being Canada, by way of the Canada Mind Analysis Fund.