Marijuana ineffective as an Alzheimer's treatment: research

The benefits of marijuana in tempering or reversing the effects of Alzheimer's disease have been challenged in a new study by researchers at the University of British Columbia and Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute.

The findings, published in the current issue of the journal Current Alzheimer Research, could lower expectations about the benefits of medical marijuana in combating various cognitive diseases and help redirect future research to more promising therapeutics.

Previous studies using animal models showed that HU210, a synthetic form of the compounds found in marijuana, reduced the toxicity of plaques and promoted the growth of new neurons. Those studies used rats carrying amyloid protein, the toxin that forms plaques in the brains of Alzheimer's victims.

The new study, led by Dr. Weihong Song, Canada Research Chair in and a professor of psychiatry in the UBC Faculty of Medicine, was the first to test those findings using mice carrying human that cause Alzheimer's disease - widely considered to be a more accurate model for the disease in humans.

"As scientists, we begin every study hoping to be able to confirm beneficial effects of potential therapies, and we hoped to confirm this for the use of in treating Alzheimer's disease," says Song, a member of the Brain Research Centre at UBC and VCH Research Institute and Director of Townsend Family Laboratories at UBC.

"But we didn't see any benefit at all. Instead, our study pointed to some detrimental effects."

Over a period of several weeks, some of the Alzheimer's-afflicted mice were given varying doses of HU210 - also known as - which is 100 to 800 times more potent than the compounds. Their memory was then tested.

The mice treated with HU210 did no better than untreated mice, with those given low doses of HU210 performing the worst. The researchers also found that HU210-treated mice had just as much and the same density of neurons as the control group. The group given higher doses actually had fewer brain cells.

"Our study shows that HU210 has no biological or behavioural effect on the established Alzheimer's disease model," says Song, the Jack Brown and Family Professor and Chair in Alzheimer's Disease. "More studies should be done before we place much hope in marijuana's benefits for Alzheimer's patients."

Citation: Marijuana ineffective as an Alzheimer's treatment: research (2010, February 8) retrieved 22 April 2019 from
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Feb 08, 2010
It is always said that we can only identify an x number of cannabinoids out of some 600(?) - Arjan (king of Cann)

So it makes we wonder if the synthetic variety actually isnt quite the same. Perhaps by using actual cbn/cbd's from real plants they could get a result.

Feb 08, 2010
I can only wonder how an herb that virtually eliminates short term memory formation, marijuana, is going to help someone w/ AD who can no longer form new short term memories suddenly be able to produce new short term memories.

Feb 08, 2010
More long-term testing on self-directed human volunteers is urgently needed.

Feb 08, 2010
and the key is that they are using SYNTHETIC cannabinoids. Its the same issue with any SYNTHETIC replication...ITS A REPLICATION!!! We cannot get right what nature can create. use the real thing and then see if there are any benefits or not.

Feb 08, 2010
Amalaki- agreed.
It is pretty well understood that by refining the so-called active ingredients of botanical compounds that their effects are modified. Industrial expediency doesn't necessarily produce increased or even desired effects. At least Dr Song didn't try to slam the door shut on further research. That's a step in the right direction, in and of itself.

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