The real dope on Alzheimer's

The proteins that form neurodegenerative plaques in brain cells can be removed by the active chemical found in marijuana, according to preliminary studies by researchers at the Salk Institute. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and other compounds found in marijuana apparently promote the cellular removal of neurotoxic amyloid beta in laboratory-grown neurons. “When we were able to identify the molecular basis of the inflammatory response to amyloid beta, it became clear that THC-like compounds that the nerve cells make themselves may be involved in protecting the cells from dying,” says team member Antonio Currais. Whether or not this discovery proves useful clinically remains to be seen, but the suggestion is that the way in which these compounds reduce inflammation may have a role to play in designing new treatments for this debilitating disease.