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Can Medical Cannabis Be Used to Treat Alzheimer’s?

Can Medical Cannabis Be Used to Treat Alzheimer’s? November 30, 2017Leave a comment

Can Medical Cannabis Be Used To Treat Alzheimer’s?

Does the name J147 sound familiar to you? Probably not, unless you happen to dabble in Alzheimer’s research. This new drug candidate will be used by researchers to study links between THC, inflammation and plaque build-up in the brain. J147 is not THC but it does appear to have the same affects. Rather than pure THC, J147 must be used due to current government positions on THC testing for medicinal purposes. All federal marijuana is grown & tested at one facility at the University of Mississippi and is usually only at a potency level of 8%.

THC has been found to remove toxic clumps of amyloid beta protein in the brain. This protein is thought to assist in the early progression of Alzheimer’s Disease. One study, published in 2014 by the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, supports the effectiveness of THC in prohibiting the growth of toxic amyloid protein. In 2006 researchers at the Scripps Research Institute found that THC inhibits the formation of amyloid plaques by blocking the enzyme in the brain that produces them. More recent studies  support that position. These studies were conducted under the guidance of David Shubert, Professor & Laboratory Head of the Cellular Neurobiology Lab of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in California.

“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,” says Shubert. (*See here for more details.)

Schubert and his colleagues tested the effects of THC on human neurons grown in the lab that mimic the effects of Alzheimer’s Disease. The J147 drug compound works by passing from the lungs to the bloodstream. Here, it attaches to cannabinoid receptors (CB) 1 and 2, which are found on cell surfaces all over the body. Research suggests that by binding to these receptors, THC could have another effect on aging brains as it it appears to help the body clear out the toxic accumulations – or ‘plaques’ – of amyloid beta. The exact cause of Alzheimer’s is not clear but it’s thought to result from a build-up of amyloid plaque & neurofibrillary tangling.

According to Antonio Carras from Schubert’s team, “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.” The idea here is that if scientists find something that eases brain inflammation while encouraging the body to clear out these lesions, we may be on the way to finding the first effective treatment for Alzheimer’s ever.

This research is very exciting and has thus far, only been demonstrated in neurons in the lab. Observing the link between THC, reduced inflammation & plaque build-up by Schubert’s team will be the next step for clinical trials. Since pure THC could not be used, this makes J147 the next best candidate for testing. Many are hopeful in looking forward to what David Schubert and team find in terms of treating Alzheimer’s. If you would like to read up on more of the work David Schubert and his team are conducting, click here to view his link on the Salk Institute for Biological Studies website.

By Tracy Jerome Chisley (@PoeticPanther)

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