Over the next 50 years the number of people with Alzheimer’s disease is expected to triple, so medicines that can slow the growth of plaque build up in the brain associated with Alzheimer’s are needed now more than ever.
A lot of great work is being done to this effect, and a new study from the Salk Institute suggests THC and other compounds found in marijuana deserve to be tested further.
Researchers took human neurones grown in a lab and altered them to produce levels of Amyloid beta – a protein associated with Alzheimer’s – similar to those found in a person with the condition. They were then exposed to THC and other compounds found in cannabis.
The team found that not only was the protein buildup broken down, but inflammation within the cells that make it difficult for neurons to communicate with one another was also reduced.
“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.
The researchers were keen to stress these experiments were laboratory-based, and that further studies, including clinical trials, should be conducted.