The drug contains anti-inflammatory components that help target the prevention of nerve cell death in people with Alzheimer's.
With millions of people globally suffering from the effects of Alzheimer’s disease, researchers are continually finding ways to help beat the debilitating illness.
Scientists have published a new study that suggests marijuana could play an important role in treatment for Alzheimer’s sufferers with the drug targeting the removal of beta-amyloid protein from nerve cells that form plaques and block efficient communication between neurons, hindering Alzheimer’s patients from normal brain activity according to a report by The Huffington Post.
Although these proteins factor highly in this disease, doctors are still unsure what role they truly play. It would seem obvious for researchers to find a way of preventing these plaques from forming in the first place but this isn’t so easy.
What the researchers of the study did find was, inflammation plays a big part in the beta-amyloid production with increased inflammation causing significant deterioration and death in the brain’s nerve cells.
Antonio Currais, also of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies and lead author of the study says, “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,”
Looking at the effects of marijuana on the brain, researchers looked at the tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) contained in the drug and found this had an anti-inflammotory effect, reducing beta-amyloid levels and protecting the nerve cells from dying.
Although more clinical trials are needed to further prove the role of THCs on beta-amyloid proteins, the researchers believe this could be a new pathway into new treatments for those with 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.”
The study was published in Nature’s journal Aging and Mechanisms of Disease.