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Cannabis Agonist Slows Alzheimer's Progression, Study Says

Thursday, 26 October 2006

Atlanta, GA: The administration of the cannabinoid agonist WIN 55,212-2 reduces brain inflammation and improves memory in animals, according to preclinical data presented last week at the 36th annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience (SFN).

Investigators at Ohio State University, Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, reported that older rats administered daily doses of WIN 55,212-2 for a period of three weeks performed significantly better than non-treated controls on a water-maze memory test. Researchers determined that rats treated with the compound experienced a 50 percent improvement in memory and a 40 to 50 percent reduction in inflammation compared to controls.

Investigators said that the cannabinoid agonist was the first compound that they were aware of to reduce inflammation in "an old brain" in a preclinical trial.

"These results provide critical information for the use of the endocannabinoid system that may lead to the use of specific cannabinoid agonists in the treatment of neuroinflammation-related diseases, such as Alzheimer's," they concluded.

The Ohio State study is the second report this month to suggest that cannabinoids may moderate Alzheimer's disease progression. Investigators at the Scripps Research Institute in California previously reported in the journal Molecular Therapeutics that THC inhibits the enzyme responsible for the aggregation of amyloid plaque in a manner "considerably" superior to approved Alzheimer's medications such as donepezil and tacrine.

Separate presentations at this year's SFN conference reported that oral THC reduces symptoms of Parkinson's disease in animals, and that cannabinoids possess long-lasting neuroprotective effects against cerebral ischemia (a reduction of blood flow to the brain that can cause cell death).

For more information, please contact Paul Armentano, NORML Senior Policy Analyst, at (202) 483-5500. Abstracts from this year's Society for Neuroscience conference are online at: http://apu.sfn.org/am2006/.