Could THC Discovery Contribute to New Alzheimer's Medications?
Researchers at the Scripps Research Institute have found that the active ingredient in marijuana may help prevent Alzheimer's disease. Tetrahydrocannabinol or THC as it is better known, apparently inhibits the formation of amyloid plaque. In plaques, the main protein component is called beta-amyloid, which is produced from a larger protein called beta-amyloid precursor protein. Ever since the discovery of these proteins researchers have been attempting to discover their role in the disease. This study has found that THC is much more effective at breaking down the plaque than some of the FDA approved medications currently available for treating Alzheimer's disease.
Many people may have to think again about marijuana. The researchers say their findings show that there is a "previously unrecognized molecular mechanism through which THC may directly affect the progression of Alzheimer's disease". More research will need to be done to see if a new treatment that involves the use of THC will halt or slow the progression of Alzheimer's disease.
Alzheimer's is a disease that affects about 4.5 million Americans. It is estimated that by 2050 that number of people with Alzheimer's could be as high as 16 million.
Information Source: Lisa M. Eubanks, Claude J. Rogers, Tobin J. Dickerson, Albert E. Beuscher IV, George F. Koob, and Arthur J. Olson. (2006) A Molecular Link Between the Active Component of Marijuana and Alzheimer's Disease Pathology, Journal Molecular Pharmaceutics Publication of the American Chemical Society.