Alzheimer’s Disease :: Marijuana like compound – WIN may slow Alzheimer’s disease, memory loss

A new U.S. study finds that marijuana may help slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers from Ohio State University in Columbus found that marijuana may contain compounds that can slow memory loss associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

In their study involving rats, a team led by psychology professor Gary Wenk searched for ways to reduce Alzheimer’s-linked brain inflammation.

Wenk was already familiar with data that found that long-term marijuana users had lower rates of Alzheimer’s disease than the general population. His team sought to find a compound that might reduce disease-linked brain inflammation but avoid the drug’s psychoactive effects.

“We are using a component of marijuana that stimulates the same centers in the brain that marijuana does,” Wenk said. The synthetic compound, which is very similar in composition to marijuana, is called WIN-55212-2 (WIN).

Experiments conducted on young and old rats revealed that WIN is “a very effective anti-inflammatory, it reduces brain inflammation,” Wenk said.

What makes this discovery special is that this compound can cross the blood-brain barrier, Wenk explained. The results of a special rat “maze test” suggested that WIN “also reversed the memory impairment in the older rats,” he said.

Brain inflammation is characteristic of many diseases other than Alzheimer’s, including multiple sclerosis, ALS, AIDS, Huntington’s and Parkinson’s, Wenk noted. “We are beginning to notice that brain inflammation is always in the background as people get older,” he said. “Inflammation doesn’t cause the disease, it contributes to the pathology,” he said.

WIN is not appropriate for use in humans because it still contains substances that may trigger a “high.” However, Wenk hopes that some form of this compound might be used to benefit people with neurological diseases.

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