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article imageCannabis reverses brain aging process in new study

By Tim Sandle     May 28, 2017 in Science
Bonn - The new study relates to an animal model. Here scientists have restored the memory performance of Methuselah mice to a juvenile stage. The leading question is: could this effect also be seen with people?
It's well established that memory performance decreases with increasing age, as well as memory loss associated with dementias such as Alzheimer's disease. One area of on-going medical research is the extent to which both "natural" age-related memory loss and memory loss from dementias can be reversed? (with most research focused on tackling dementia). In mice, at least, a new study from the University of Bonn and The Hebrew University of Jerusalem suggests that cannabis can reverse these ageing processes in the brain.
With the mouse model, scientists found that old animals were able to regress to the state of two-month-old mice following a prolonged low-dose treatment using a cannabis active ingredient. The reason for studying mice is because of their short life expectancy, with most mice showing cognitive decline at twelve months old.
For the study, the scientists administered a small quantity of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the active ingredient in the hemp plant (cannabis) to mice of varying ages. The mice were aged two, twelve and 18 months, and the cannabis extract was given over a period of four weeks. The mice were subject to various performance and memory tests. BY four weeks the cognitive functions of the older animals, treated with cannabis, were equivalent to the two-month-old control animals.
The effect is thought to relate to THC linking with cannabinoid 1 receptors. These are proteins to which the substances dock and thus trigger a signal chain. This was shown by mice, bred to have no CB1 receptors, not showing the memory improvement when cannabis was given.
The new research opens up the possibility of later human trials, with the potential for using a cannabis extract to treat dementia. The research has been published in the journal Nature Medicine under the title "A chronic low dose of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) restores cognitive function in old mice."
More about Cannabis, Marijuana, Brain, brain funciton, Aging
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