Alzheimer’s & Brain Tumors

Discovery Could Lead to More Effective Treatments

“August 9, 2006 – Scientists at The Scripps Research Institute have found that the active ingredient in marijuana, tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, inhibits the formation of amyloid plaque, the primary pathological marker for Alzheimer’s disease. In fact, the study said, THC is “a considerably superior inhibitor of [amyloid plaque] aggregation” to several currently approved drugs for treating the disease…”

“As the new study points out, any new treatment that could halt or even slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease would have a major impact on the quality of life for patients, as well as reducing the staggering health care costs associated with the disease.

Alzheimer’s disease is the leading cause of dementia among the elderly, and the numbers are growing. The Alzheimer’s Association estimates 4.5 million Americans have the disease, a figure that could reach as high as 16 million by 2050. A survey by the National Center for Health Statistics noted that half of all nursing home residents have Alzheimer’s disease or a related disorder. The costs of caring for Alzheimer’s patients are at least $100 billion annually, according to the National Institute on Aging.”

Marijuana May Stall Brain Tumor Growth

Active Ingredient in Marijuana Inhibits Cancer Growth in Early Study

By Jennifer Warner
WebMD Health News

Reviewed by Michael W. Smith, MD

“Aug. 15, 2004 — The active ingredient in marijuana may help fight brain tumors, a new study suggests. Researchers say the cannabinoids found in marijuana may aid in brain tumor treatment by targeting the genes needed for the tumors to sprout blood vessels and grow.

“Their study showed that cannabinoids inhibited genes needed for the production of vascular growth factor (VEGF) in laboratory mice with glioma brain tumors and two patients with late-stage glioblastoma multiforme, a form of brain cancer.

VEGF is a protein that stimulates blood vessels to grow. Tumors need an abundant blood supply because they generally grow rapidly. So when VEGF is blocked, tumors starve from lack of blood supply and nutrients.

“Blocking of VEGF constitutes one of the most promising tumor-fighting approaches currently available, says researcher Manuel Guzman, professor of biochemistry and molecular biology, at the Complutense University in Madrid, Spain, in a news release.

Guzman says the findings suggest VEGF may be a new target for cannabinoid-based treatments. Previous studies have shown that cannabinoids could inhibit the growth of tumor-associated blood vessels in mice, but until now little was known about how they worked. The results of the study appear in the Aug. 15 issue of the journal Cancer Research…”

“Researchers say more study is needed but the results suggest that cannabinoid-based therapies may offer a new alternative for treatment of these otherwise untreatable brain tumors.”

Medical cannabis needs further research.  It’s time to set aside politics and focus on the potential health benefits.

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