Could there be a cure for Alzheimer’s? Cannabinoids have shown promise, but the “guinea pigs” to prove it may well be professional footballers.
The Daily Good reports that a Pennsylvania-based pharmaceutical company is conducting research that confirms the neuroprotectant qualities of cannabidiol. Bennet Omalu, the footballer depicted in the 2015 movie “Concussion” lent a helping hand, and the results show that cannabidiol protects diseased hippocampal neurons. That’s the part of the brain that helps us to learn and remember, and the Temple University research team attributes the effect to the anti-inflammatory properties of the cannabinoid.
Early days for research
Although early results sound incredibly exciting, we should not forget that Alzheimer’s cannabinoids are still in the early phases of research. Some say that THC shows the greatest promise, while others, such as the Temple University team say cannabidiol is the most effective choice.
Full scale clinical trials have yet to be passed, but the research team is hoping that its cannabinoid treatment will live up to its early trial results. The researchers are using an artificially synthesized form of cannabidiol, thereby bypassing cannabis prohibition and the difficulty of obtaining reliable plant material for making natural extracts.
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Neuroprotective drugs would be a first
The Daily Good says that a neuroprotective drug that’s actually registered as a treatment would be a first for the US. Researcher Ronald Tuma says that cannabinoids play a role in reducing secondary nervous system trauma through their anti-inflammatory action. That implies usefulness in treating CTE and pain syndrome following strokes as well as a possible treatment for Alzheimer’s.
Alzheimer’s cannabinoids under the microscope
Earlier this year, researchers used THC to prove that the reduction in inflammatory plaques had a neuroprotectant effect, but now the race is on to see whether THC or CBD will prove to be the most effective Alzheimer’s cannabinoid.
No matter which cannabinoid gets the green light, this research may yet give rise to something we’ve all been waiting for: an effective remedy to stop the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. With nearly 44 million people around the world suffering from this terrible malady, and with the US’s ageing population expected to show a 300% increase in Alzheimer’s cases during the next 50 years, the benefits of such a drug would be immeasurable.
Cannabidiol may have the same effect as THC – without the high
Although the report did not focus closely on cannabidiol’s mode of action and why this could help Alzheimer’s patients, it is very likely that the mode of action for both Alzheimer’s cannabinoids would be similar. In July, the Salk Institute reported that THC reduced the amount of amyloid beta produced by neurons, a marker for Alzheimer’s disease. The protein causes inflammation which ultimately results in nerve-cell death and the progression of the disease.
The one advantage that cannabidiol has over THC as an Alzheimer’s cannabinoid if it can be shown to have a similar mode of action, is the lack of the “high” side-effect that may aggravate matters for patients already suffering from mental confusion.