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A molecular link between the active component of marijuana and Alzheimer's disease pathology.
November 7, 2010 5:10 PM   Subscribe

Here, we demonstrate that the active component of marijuana, Delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), competitively inhibits the enzyme acetylcholinesterase (AChE)...
posted by analogtom (46 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
Compared to currently approved drugs prescribed for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease, THC is a considerably superior inhibitor of Abeta aggregation, and this study provides a previously unrecognized molecular mechanism through which cannabinoid molecules may directly impact the progression of this debilitating disease.

I'm unconvinced that inhibiting Abeta aggregation actually slows the progression of Alzheimer's. At least, the jury is still out, and signs point to some other confounding factor:
When scientists analyzed the autopsied brains of patients in the failed vaccine trial, for example, they noted that the subjects had fewer plaques than before they received the vaccine but still had shown no improvement on tests of mental function. To confuse matters more, in tests involving animals with the equivalent of Alzheimer's, mice whose brains were loaded with amyloid performed as well as those without the plaques.
Sources more primary than Time Magazine would be appreciated, of course.
posted by muddgirl at 5:22 PM on November 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


There's much more recent research on cannabinoids and Alzheimers: I wrote about some of it here.
posted by Maias at 5:23 PM on November 7, 2010 [10 favorites]


weed: what can't it do!

oh yeah, be legally used in america.
posted by Mach5 at 5:23 PM on November 7, 2010 [8 favorites]


This is really only preliminary evidence. I don't see any of the typical side effects of acetylcholinesterase inhibitors with marijuana - salivation, lachrymation, urination, defacation, emesis. Donepezil, rivastigmine etc have these side effects - not so much with cannabis. That calls this into question. That said, it is interesting research and I would be interested to see more results.
posted by candasartan at 5:27 PM on November 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


This is great news for Alzheimer's research, but I can't help but think if the media reports on this at all, it will be along the lines of "Marijuana found to have same action on the brain as banned pesticides, fungicides and various deadly nerve gasses and other chemical weapons of mass destruction."

Unfortunately no matter what progress is made, no matter what incredible discoveries THC may yield, it won't be reported in the media unless they can put a huge negative spin on it.
posted by inedible at 5:27 PM on November 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Your study from 2006 vs this one from 2009. A mouse study did show promise. OTOH a little amphetamine is good for ADHD but you wouldn't want to buy some crystal meth to use in a pinch.
posted by humanfont at 5:30 PM on November 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


This is great news for Alzheimer's research, but I can't help but think if the media reports on this at all

Well, I don't think you'll see a lot of reporting on this study right now, because it is from 2006.
posted by ssg at 5:31 PM on November 7, 2010


oh yeah, be legally used in america.

No, that's one of the few things that can be legally done with it in America. At least in private. And without annoying your neighbors. What you can't do freely is grow, sell, buy, or store it.

...this comment started out as a smartass reply and now all its done is just made me sad.
posted by griphus at 5:31 PM on November 7, 2010 [4 favorites]


Your study from 2006 vs this one from 2009. A mouse study did show promise. OTOH a little amphetamine is good for ADHD but you wouldn't want to buy some crystal meth to use in a pinch.

Actually desoxyn—which contains crystal meth, aka methamphetamine—is a legal ADHD drug that is commonly prescribed.
posted by Maias at 5:36 PM on November 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


This is one of those occasions when I'm reminded of how incredibly grateful I am not to be Nancy Reagan.
posted by Sys Rq at 5:38 PM on November 7, 2010 [11 favorites]


Does this mean that Soman gets you stoned?
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 5:47 PM on November 7, 2010


I'm unconvinced that inhibiting Abeta aggregation actually slows the progression of Alzheimer's.

You're not the only one. The data on this is very mixed. At this point, the only thing that can be said for certain is that Alzheimer's disease and amyloid deposition are linked. That said, after more than a decade of research, it's still one of the strongest hypotheses we have to work with.

Note that while acetylcholinesterase inhibitors (e.g. rivastigmine) are already used to treat Alzheimer's disease, they are only meant to target the symptoms, not the underlying disease mechanisms (which, as noted above, are still controversial). And they aren't even very good at symptom relief. But while drugs like rivastigmine target the AChE active site, this paper seems to be saying that the clinically-relevant site with respect to amyloid deposition is allosteric. That is to say, it's a different binding site entirely, and thus it may be possible to target the site that affects amyloid deposition without actually disrupting its ability to cleave acetylcholinesterase (though THC seems to do both).
posted by dephlogisticated at 5:52 PM on November 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


taters and joe
posted by clavdivs at 6:04 PM on November 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


That last sentence should read "without actually disrupting its ability to cleave acetylcholine"
posted by dephlogisticated at 6:05 PM on November 7, 2010


Unfortunately no matter what progress is made, no matter what incredible discoveries THC may yield, it won't be reported in the media unless they can put a huge negative spin on it.
All I ever hear is how it's a wonder drug, but then I don't exactly watch a lot of TV news.
Your study from 2006 vs this one from 2009. A mouse study did show promise. OTOH a little amphetamine is good for ADHD but you wouldn't want to buy some crystal meth to use in a pinch.
Well, as Maias said, it's legally prescribed for treating ADD, but I actually don't know how common it is. I would think that the stigma around methamphetamine would cause people to prescribe it less, but I don't know. Does anyone know where you can look up something like that?
posted by delmoi at 6:18 PM on November 7, 2010


It's a schedule II drug, which limits prescribing, I believe. I think Ritalin is only Schedule III, controlled, but less so. Not to do with the stigma so much as the law, though those are of course related to some degree.
posted by Maias at 6:37 PM on November 7, 2010


Lotta doobious materials being posted on the blue today.
posted by jellywerker at 6:40 PM on November 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


Well you can also get a legal prescription for THC in the form of a pill called Marinol. Amphetamines prescribed by your doctor for AdhD are schedule 2 drugs. Which means you must get a physical written prescription each time and your doctor should be checking for signs of abuse. Also should you forget your medication while traveling forget going to the pharmacist to get a couple of pills until you get back. Sure chemically crystal meth may be the same as one of the more common ADHD pills, but you arn't anywhere near the dosages. This is why these things are highly regulated so you don't grind up your 10mg pills and get your self high off a mega-dose.
My original point was that there is a difference between using a chemical in a controlled defined dosage vs what you buy and smoke from the local marijuana pharmacy. We do know that of you smoke a lot of dope it will cause some major impairment of memory and brain function, just like alcohol. There is probably a therapeutic effect and we are slowly starting to figure it out(just like alcohol).
The stigma attached to recreational usage has created a real barrier to research into a nber of potentially beneficial compounds. It is also my view that we've failed to understand the true causative actions in the herbal compounds and focused only on single chemicals like THC while ignoring other chemicals in the herb that may be necessary for efficacy.
posted by humanfont at 6:44 PM on November 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


I read this to my wife and then said "Well that's dope." She snickered. Fuck!
posted by PsychoTherapist at 7:13 PM on November 7, 2010


Well, as Maias said, it's legally prescribed for treating ADD, but I actually don't know how common it is.

Well, prescription methamphetamine is understandably pretty rare. It goes by the brand name Desoxyn.

Its MUCH more common siblings:
Adderall, Benzedrine = Dextroamphetamine + Levoamphetamine
Dexedrine, Vyvanse = Dextroamphetamine
Ritalin, Concerta = Methylphenidate

Or, heck, screw ADD meds. How about nasal congestion? Dristan = Propylhexedrine
posted by Sys Rq at 8:51 PM on November 7, 2010


Desoxyn is not frequently prescribed, by any means. For the treatment of attention related disorders, it is in fact quite uncommon these days, although the kind of health care 'professionals' who dole out attention oriented medications without knowing what the fuck they're doing is high enough that you still see this application occasionally. It is more frequently prescribed for the treatment of narcolepsy.

A single link to a PubMed abstract from 2006? This is not an appropriate post for MetaFilter. The topic is an interesting one, for certain, but this research is not current, and the link is accompanied by no supporting information whatsoever. What's more, the full text of the article isn't even likely to be available for the vast majority of the site's users.
posted by solipsophistocracy at 8:58 PM on November 7, 2010


To read the full article, click on the tiny logo to the upper-right that says:

FREE Author Manuscript
in PubMed Central

It will take you here, to the full article.
posted by dephlogisticated at 9:06 PM on November 7, 2010


As much as I love the message of this article, an abstract does not a MetaFilter post make.
posted by d1rge at 10:04 PM on November 7, 2010


Double, in any case.
posted by daksya at 11:05 PM on November 7, 2010


It's a schedule II drug, which limits prescribing, I believe. I think Ritalin is only Schedule III, controlled, but less so.

No, Ritalin is also schedule II in the United States. As is Adderall, a mixture of a couple different amphetamines. Which isn't surprising given how similar they all are, particularly Adderall and methamphetamine. Anyone trying to convince you otherwise is lying either to you or to himself. Don't get me wrong, Adderall is a kick ass drug for a lot of things. But let's not kid ourselves about there being some bright line distinction between "good drugs" and "bad drugs". It's all in how you use it.
posted by Justinian at 11:06 PM on November 7, 2010


Ich bin ein Marijuana Researcher
posted by Fupped Duck at 2:00 AM on November 8, 2010


Department of Chemistry and Immunology, The Skaggs Schwags Institute for Chemical Biology.

Dunno, seems pretty suspect to me.
posted by rudster at 3:58 AM on November 8, 2010


> Actually desoxyn—which contains crystal meth, aka methamphetamine—is a legal ADHD drug that is commonly prescribed.

Legal, yes, but not at all common from what I can tell. I have ADD, and it has never come up in the course of talking to various doctors about treatment options, reading ADD books, and scouring web resources on ADD. I've only ever seen it mentioned in the context of discussing the legality of various substances.
posted by shponglespore at 7:13 AM on November 8, 2010


*sigh* On not-preview, what everyone else said above.
posted by shponglespore at 7:18 AM on November 8, 2010


Between this and the masturbation, I think my health needs are all covered.
posted by Panjandrum at 8:28 AM on November 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Larry David's dad will be pleased.
posted by Rykey at 8:55 AM on November 8, 2010


An interesting side question will be whether the molecule can be isolated and delivered in pill form at specified intervals. You know. Science.

Or will the pro-marijuana crowd INSIST that it must always be smoked, whenever, wherever. And served with an appropriate accompanying beverage.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 8:55 AM on November 8, 2010


An interesting side question will be whether the molecule can be isolated and delivered in pill form at specified intervals. You know. Science.

Science, you say? My pot-addled brain has never heard of it.

Yes, various components of marijuana have been synthesized and provided in pill form. Dronabinol or Marinol is a commonly-referenced prescription drug that consists of synthesized THC.

Or are you just being snarky for the sake of snark?
posted by muddgirl at 9:14 AM on November 8, 2010


No, not snarky. I've often wondered why the medical marijuana lobby doesn't focus on pill-form delivery like Marinol. For all their effort, you never see it mentioned as an option. You would likely see that message accepted quite differently than one from a tie-dyed, dreadlocked space cadet.

Of course, there are reports that focused drugs like Marinol don't provide the same effect, likely because there are other aspects to smoking, such as other chemicals delivered in the smoking experience, that provide the key differences.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:33 AM on November 8, 2010


Marinol is nothing like smoking marijuana. Neither is eating it. Neither is using a vaporizer. The effects of marinol, in my experience, didn't involve much of a high at all, but did give me the munchies about an hour after taking it. Eating it is a very slow come-on with much more of a body high and vaguely psychedelic experiences. Vaporizers, to me, are kind of like the lite beer of highs.

There are all kinds of secondary chemicals in pot which get included or filtered or differently processed in the body depending on how you take it in.

And don't characterize all pot smokers as "tie-dyed, dreadlocked space cadets". It's a stereotype which doesn't jibe with reality and does more harm than good when discussing its medical use.
posted by hippybear at 9:50 AM on November 8, 2010


I've often wondered why the medical marijuana lobby doesn't focus on pill-form delivery like Marinol.

Well, if you're trying to treat nausea, oral medications can be problematic.
posted by fogovonslack at 11:40 AM on November 8, 2010


And don't characterize all pot smokers as "tie-dyed, dreadlocked space cadets". It's a stereotype which doesn't jibe with reality and does more harm than good when discussing its medical use.

Yes, that's right. It does harm the image of the medical marijuana movement.

Which is why I can't understand why the medical movement can't or won't disentangle itself from that same stereotype image. This is annually the biggest, most popular event of its kind in my city. Psychedelic poster? Check! Reggae music? Check! High Times sponsorship! Oh fuck yes!

Please tell me why it's a good thing that Dr. Gil Mobley, an honest to God medical marijuana expert, hits the stage 10 minutes before Thin C+Weed R The World (with members of Bone Thugs N Harmony )? Is Weed R The World going to explain the anti-nausea benefits of marijuana for cancer patients?

All pot smokers are not "tie-dyed, dreadlocked space cadets," as you point out in such a way to make me think your sarcasm gene was removed.

But it's the space cadets holding everyone back.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 12:31 PM on November 8, 2010


Well, is it really fair to look at an event such as Hempfest and see it as strictly a medical marijuana conference? There's a lot more going on in a gathering such as that, which is advocating for marijuana use on MANY levels -- medical, spiritual, hemp production (which has nothing to do with getting high), legal implications under the current system of laws...

I mean, there's a large umbrella of reasons why people are seeking reform of marijuana laws and social attitudes. That particular event seems to try to bring them all together for a single event, trying to get them all on the same page somewhat, and possibly serve as one-stop-shopping for people who are seeking to explore (or celebrate) the idea of marijuana as a plant which can be used by humans for a variety of uses.

But in the end, they break up into their different camps and work toward their own ends, which is the same end, just different paths up the mountain.

I don't disagree with your assessment that "pot culture" does more to work against legalization than for it. I've been using marijuana non-medically for 30 years now. And personally, I find all the trappings of "pothead" tiresome. Somehow I think there's something a bit off about making one's imbibing into a full-on lifestyle. But then, I also don't want to hang bar mirrors and neon beer signs in my room simply because I enjoy alcohol.

So, I think we agree about the space cadets being perhaps the wrong face for any kind of drug reform movement to put forward. But I think that's changing slowly. Just like the headbangers from the 80s finally cut off their hair and started focussing on their instrumentality instead of their makeup and fishnets, marijuana advocacy is going to eventually shed its lifestyle/user image. Or, I hope that, anyway.
posted by hippybear at 12:51 PM on November 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


There are all kinds of secondary chemicals in pot which get included or filtered or differently processed in the body depending on how you take it in.

Exactly, which was why I was careful to note that Marinol is a synthetic version of one component of marijuana. Something that is often ignored by the anti-fun lobby.

I've often wondered why the medical marijuana lobby doesn't focus on pill-form delivery like Marinol.

Umm... because it's legal to prescribe and consume in all 50 states? Why would they "focus" on legalizing something that's already legal?
posted by muddgirl at 12:54 PM on November 8, 2010


I don't know why I put scare quotes around focus! Probably because they are fun and I am pro-fun.
posted by muddgirl at 12:54 PM on November 8, 2010


And don't characterize all pot smokers as "tie-dyed, dreadlocked space cadets"

posted by hippybear


Ironic nickname is ironic.
posted by hanov3r at 1:13 PM on November 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Why would they "focus" on legalizing something that's already legal?

My point exactly. That's how you arrive at the argument that the medical marijuana lobby is a stalking horse for widespread, over the counter legalization for recreational purposes.

They're not helping their own case. Thus, it's not really their case. And everyone loses.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 1:28 PM on November 8, 2010


My point exactly.

It's not your point, actually.

Are you arguing that it is scientifically proven that marijuana plants provide no extra therapeutic benefits beyond what we have acheived with synthetic THC?
posted by muddgirl at 2:48 PM on November 8, 2010


In other words, you seem to think that synthetic THC == marijuana.
posted by muddgirl at 2:49 PM on November 8, 2010


I suspect there is a difference between THC and Marijuanna. In fact I seem to recall that recent research pointed put that there were perhaps other compounds in the plant that had a greater medicinal impact without the impairment of THC. Unfortunately our sucky drug policies have made it very difficult to study this. The medical marijuana lobby hasn't done much to help either, because it seems lke they are more interested in getting high than achieving any scientific breakthroughs. Now that the chemotherapy patients can keep their gruel down, its time for the mm industry to grow up and do the research.
posted by humanfont at 5:11 PM on November 8, 2010


Yeah, there's a "difference" in that THC is one of a large class of drugs called cannabinoids, many of which (but not nearly all) occur naturally in marijuana. THC isolated provides a fraction of the benefit of marijuana because it is a fraction of the active compounds contained within.
posted by mek at 9:19 PM on November 8, 2010


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