Scientists have made a game-changing discovery that could be huge news for Alzheimer's patients.
A new study suggests that marijuana may have an important new use in the fight against one of the most feared diseases known to man.
The study, published in the journal Aging and Mechanisms of Disease, found that a compound in marijuana helped trigger the removal of beta-amyloid protein from nerve cells, which is considered a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease. Beta-amyloid plaques block communication between the brain’s neurons, according to a Salk Institute statement.
It is difficult to treat Alzheimer’s by blocking beta-amyloid accumulation as scientists have been unable to figure out the exact role of the protein, however.
Endocannabinoids activate receptors of nerve cells in the brain, which can help nerve cell signaling, and marijuana contains tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is similar to endocanniboinds. As a result, the researchers think it is possible that marijuana could possible prevent nerve cells from dying, and stop the effects of Alzheimer’s.
“Although other studies have offered evidence that cannabinoids might be neuroprotective against the symptoms of Alzheimer’s, we believe our study is the first to demonstrate that cannabinoids affect both inflammation and amyloid beta accumulation in nerve cells,” said Salk Professor David Schubert, the senior author of the paper.
“Inflammation within the brain is a major component of the damage associated with Alzheimer’s disease, but it has always been assumed that this response was coming from immune-like cells in the brain, not the nerve cells themselves,” said Antonio Currais, a postdoctoral researcher in Schubert’s laboratory and first author of the paper. “When we were able to identify the molecular basis of the inflammatory response to amyloid beta, it became clear that THC-like compounds that the nerve cells make themselves may be involved in protecting the cells from dying.”