Marijuana compound may halt Alzheimer's progression

A new study has revealed that very low levels of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, compound found in marijuana may slow or halt the progression of Alzheimer's disease.

ANI| Last Updated: Aug 28, 2014, 12:50 PM IST

Washington: A new study has revealed that very low levels of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, compound found in marijuana may slow or halt the progression of Alzheimer's disease.

According to the study by neuroscientists at the University of South Florida, 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.

Lead researcher Chuanhai Cao said that 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 and 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 study was published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease.