Pot Compound Protective Against ‘Mad Cow’ Disease, Other Fatal Brain Disorders, Study Says

Valbonne, France: The administration of the nonpsychoactive cannabinoid cannabidiol (CBD) inhibits prion accumulation in the brain and protects neurons against prion toxicity, according to preclinical data published in the September 5th edition of the Journal of Neuroscience.

Prion accumulation (the accumulation of abnormal, protein-based infectious particles in the brain) is the cause of various transmissible, fatal neurodegenerative diseases in both humans and animals – including bovine spongiform encephalopathy (commonly known as ‘Mad Cow’ disease) and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. No therapeutic treatments for prion-diseases are currently available.

Investigators at the National Center for Scientific Research in France reported that the administration of CBD “limited the cerebral accumulation of protease-resistant prion protein and significantly increased the survival time” in a dose-dependent manner in animals infected with a strain of prion disease.

“Our results suggest that CBD may protect neurons against the multiple molecular and cellular factors involved in the different steps of the neurodegenerative process, which takes place during prion infection,” authors concluded. “When combined with its ability to target the brain and its lack of toxic side effects, CBD may represent a promising new anti-prion drug.”

Previous preclinical studies of CBD have shown the compound to inhibit malignant cancer cell growth and protect neurons against alcohol-induced brain damage.

Other studies have demonstrated that cannabinoids can delay disease progression in animal models of several neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease).

For more information, please contact Paul Armentano, NORML Senior Policy Analyst, at: paul@norml.org. Full text of the study, “Nonpsychoactive Cannabidiol Prevents Prion Accumulation and Protects Neurons Against Prion Toxicity,” appears in the Journal of Neuroscience. Abstracts of the study are available online at: http://www.jneurosci.org/cgi/content/abstract/27/36/9537. Additional information on CBD is available in the NORML report, “Emerging Clinical Applications for Cannabis and Cannabinoids,” available online at: http://www.norml.org/pdf_files/NORML_Clinical_Applications_for_Cannabis_and_Cannabinoids.pdf.