"Marijuana has strong anti-inflammatory effects, and many researchers believe that there is a compelling link between chronic inflammation and the progression of Alzheimer's, said Gary Wenk, a study co-author and a professor of psychology at Ohio State University.
“Inflammation in the brain is part of aging,” Wenk said. “It happens to almost all of us as we age. But in some cases, this inflammation gets out of hand and causes serious damage.”
Treatment with a synthetic compound similar to marijuana reduced inflammation in older rats in addition to making the animals “smarter,” said Wenk, who is also a professor of neuroscience and molecular virology, immunology and medical genetics.
“The compound substantially improved the memories of the older rats,” he said. “These animals were able to hold on to key details of a specific task. Untreated older rats, on the other hand, were not.”
The researchers presented their findings October 18 in Atlanta at the annual Society for Neuroscience meeting.
Evidence suggests that people who regularly smoked marijuana in the 1960s and 1970s rarely develop Alzheimer's disease, said Wenk, adding that researchers are eager to develop a drug with the anti-inflammatory properties of marijuana, but without the drug's psychoactive effects....
“The compound significantly improved the older rats' memories,” Wenk said. “They found the platform faster, suggesting that they were less apt to forget key information for this task. It's a pretty good prediction of how a human would respond to this drug.”
Younger rats treated with the compound found the escape platform faster than non-treated younger rats did. However, the difference wasn't as remarkable as that of the older group, possibly due to the lack of age-related changes in the brains of the younger rats.
“Older rats have impaired spatial memory, due to the effect of aging on the brain,” Wenk said.
Wenk conducted this work with Ohio State colleagues Yannick Marchalant and Francesca Cerbai, both postdoctoral researchers in psychology, and Holly Brothers, a graduate student in psychology."My View: Hey, the effects can't be much less than current so-called memory enhancing drugs! Smoke 'em if you got 'em??
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