GUEST POST: Branching Out in Brazil

Haley Vecchiarelli (Branch Out’s first Phd student!), writes about visitng the 2015 International Brain Research Organization World Congress in Brazil.

November 18, 2015

Meet Branch Out’s first PhD student, Haley Vecchiarelli, from the University of Calgary!

Haley was the first Branchy to represent Branch Out Neurological Foundation and neuroCAM in Brazil at the 2015 International Brain Research Organization World Congress! Haley wrote about Branching Out in Brazil for us and how her neuroCAM research has the potential to impact lives around the world.

I was fortunate to be able to attend the International Brain Research Organization 9th World Congress in Rio de Janeiro this July to present my Branch Out funded project.

I presented on how a chronic inflammatory condition, colitis (inflammatory bowel disease), changes the brain’s endogenous cannabinoid system. The endogenous cannabinoid system is like your body’s version of THC (the psychoactive component of marijuana), similar to how endorphins are your body’s version of morphine.

My work was well-received, but the most poignant interaction I had was with a woman who’s son has autism and co-morbid inflammatory bowel disease and epilepsy and who was excited about research involving the cannabinoid system and these disorders. Unfortunately, in most countries research utilizing the cannabinoid system as therapeutics has been slow to start or is even illegal, which means that viable therapeutic options are not being explored as quickly as they could be.

However, with more basic research into how this system works and is changed during disease, we can push for developing therapeutics around this system, which could help alleviate some of these symptoms.

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