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Alzheimer's, Dementia & Mental Health

Marijuana May Halt or Slow Alzheimer’s Disease Says Florida Study

THC in marijuana known to be potent antioxidant with neuroprotective properties, first report that the compound directly affects Alzheimer’s pathology by decreasing amyloid beta levels

Battle Underway in Florida to Clear Marijuana for Medical Use - Seniors Lead Effort

The political battle is underway for a November election to legalize marijuana for medical use in Florida.

Most senior citizens favor the initiative according to pollsters, which is called the Florida Right to Medical Marijuana Initiative, or Amendment 2.

“What we’re hearing from older voters is not a lot different from the electorate as a whole,” said Ben Pollara, campaign manager for United For Care. More

By Anne DeLotto Baier

Aug. 27, 2014 – Extremely low levels of the compound in marijuana known as delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, may slow or halt the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, a recent study from neuroscientists at the University of South Florida shows.

Findings from the experiments, using a cellular model of Alzheimer’s disease, were reported online in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.

Researchers from the USF Health Byrd Alzheimer’s Institute showed that extremely low doses of THC reduce the production of amyloid beta, found in a soluble form in most aging brains, and prevent abnormal accumulation of this protein — a process considered one of the pathological hallmarks evident early in the memory-robbing disease. These low concentrations of THC also selectively enhanced mitochondrial function, which is needed to help supply energy, transmit signals, and maintain a healthy brain.

“THC is known to be a potent antioxidant with neuroprotective properties, but this is the first report that the compound directly affects Alzheimer’s pathology by decreasing amyloid beta levels, inhibiting its aggregation, and enhancing mitochondrial function,” said study lead author Chuanhai Cao, PhD and a neuroscientist at the Byrd Alzheimer’s Institute and the USF College of Pharmacy.

“Decreased levels of amyloid beta means less aggregation, which may protect against the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. Since THC is a natural and relatively safe amyloid inhibitor, THC or its analogs may help us develop an effective treatment in the future.”

The researchers point out that at the low doses studied, the therapeutic benefits of THC appear to prevail over the associated risks of THC toxicity and memory impairment.

 

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Senior Citizens Leading the Charge for Medical Marijuana in Florida

Vote comes in November for recreational and medical purposes; most say senior citizens will decide the outcome, which could make this the 23rd state to approve it for medical use

July 22, 2014

Read the latest news on Alzheimer's, Dementia & Mental Health

 

Neel Nabar, a study co-author and MD/PhD candidate, recognized the rapidly changing political climate surrounding the debate over medical marijuana.

“While we are still far from a consensus, this study indicates that THC and THC-related compounds may be of therapeutic value in Alzheimer’s disease,” Nabar said. “Are we advocating that people use illicit drugs to prevent the disease? No. It’s important to keep in mind that just because a drug may be effective doesn’t mean it can be safely used by anyone. However, these findings may lead to the development of related compounds that are safe, legal, and useful in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.”

The body’s own system of cannabinoid receptors interacts with naturally-occurring cannabinoid molecules, and these molecules function similarly to the THC isolated from the cannabis (marijuana) plant.

Dr. Cao’s laboratory at the Byrd Alzheimer’s Institute is currently investigating the effects of a drug cocktail that includes THC, caffeine as well as other natural compounds in a cellular model of Alzheimer’s disease, and will advance to a genetically-engineered mouse model of Alzheimer’s shortly.

“The dose and target population are critically important for any drug, so careful monitoring and control of drug levels in the blood and system are very important for therapeutic use, especially for a compound such as THC,” Dr. Cao said.

Article citation:  Chuanhai Cao, Yaqiong Li, Hui Liu, Ge Bai, Jonathan May, Xiaoyang Lin, Kyle Sutherland,  Neel Nabar and Jianfeng Cai; “The Potential Therapeutic Effects of THC on Alzheimer’s Disease,” Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, DOI: 10.3233/JAD-140093.

USF Health-
USF Health’s mission is to envision and implement the future of health. It is the partnership of the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine, the College of Nursing, the College of Public Health, the College of Pharmacy, the School of Biomedical Sciences and the School of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Sciences; and the USF Physician’s Group. The University of South Florida is a Top 50 research university in total research expenditures among both public and private institutions nationwide, according to the National Science Foundation. For more information, visit www.health.usf.edu.  Filed under Byrd Alzheimer's Institute, College of Pharmacy, Morsani College of Medicine, Research

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