Researchers 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.
The study is published in the journal Molecular Pharmaceutics, a publication of the American Chemical Society.
According to the Scripps Research study, which used both computer modeling and biochemical assays, THC inhibits the enzyme acetylcholinesterase ( AchE ), which acts as a "molecular chaperone" to accelerate the formation of amyloid plaque in the brains of Alzheimer patients.
Although experts disagree on whether the presence of beta-amyloid plaques in those areas critical to memory and cognition is a symptom or cause, it remains a significant hallmark of the disease. With its strong inhibitory abilities, the study said, THC " may provide an improved therapeutic for Alzheimer's disease " that would treat " both the symptoms and progression" of the disease.