Hey Simon! MJ and Alzheimer’s

Well. This is going to make the Old Folks Home a lot more fun!


Lots of links and a picture of ‘bud’ that is very drool-over quality in the original…

Marijuana compound removes toxic Alzheimer’s protein from the brain

This is awesome.
30 JUN 2016

An active compound in marijuana called tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) has been found to promote the removal of toxic clumps of amyloid beta protein in the brain, which are thought to kickstart the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.

The finding supports the results of previous studies that found evidence of the protective effects of cannabinoids, including THC, on patients with neurodegenerative disease.

Yup, it’s the THC. None of this “non-high low TCH” stuff, no siree.

That it promotes the removal of amyloid plaque is really surprising.

“Although other studies have offered evidence that cannabinoids might be neuroprotective against the symptoms of Alzheimer’s, we believe our study is the first to demonstrate that cannabinoids affect both inflammation and amyloid beta accumulation in nerve cells,” says one of the team, David Schubert from the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in California.

Schubert and his colleagues tested the effects of THC on human neurons grown in the lab that mimic the effects of Alzheimer’s disease.

Salk Institute. I wonder if it is THAT Salk Institute…

Looks like it.

Back at the original:

If you’re not familiar with this special little compound, it’s not only responsible for the majority of marijuana’s psychological effects – including the high – thanks to its natural pain-relieving properties, it’s also been touted as an effective treatment for the symptoms of everything from HIV and chemotherapy to chronic pain, post traumatic stress disorder, and stroke.

In fact, THC appears to be such an amazing medical agent, researchers are working on breeding genetically modified yeast that can produce it way more efficiently than it would be to make synthetic versions.

Oh Man! THC making yeast! I take back everything bad I’ve ever said about Genetic Engineering… (and I’d like to place an order for a Lager Yeast with the mods, please…)

That it lowers inflammation is generically interesting. There’s a whole lot of hurt in old folks with inflammatory diseases.

Over the years, research has suggested that by binding to these receptors, THC could be having another effect on ageing brains, because it appears to helps the body clear out the toxic accumulations – or ‘plaques’ – of amyloid beta.

No one’s entirely sure what causes Alzheimer’s disease, but it’s thought to result from a build-up of two types of lesions: amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles.

Amyloid plaques sit between the neurons as dense clusters of beta-amyloid molecules – a sticky type of protein that easily clumps together – and neurofibrillary tangles are caused by defective tau proteins that clump up into a thick, insoluble mass in the neurons.

It’s not clear why these lesions begin to appear in the brain, but studies have linked inflammation in the brain tissue to the proliferation of plaques and neurofibrillary tangles. So if we can find something that eases brain inflammation while at the same time encourages the body to clear out these lesions, we could be on the way to finding the first effective treatment for Alzheimer’s ever.

Back in 2006, researchers at the Scripps Research Institute found that THC inhibits the formation of amyloid plaques by blocking the enzyme in the brain that produces them, and now Schubert and his team have demonstrated that it can also eliminate a dangerous inflammatory response from the nerve cells, ensuring their survival.

“Inflammation within the brain is a major component of the damage associated with Alzheimer’s disease, but it has always been assumed that this response was coming from immune-like cells in the brain, not the nerve cells themselves,” says one of the team, Antonio Currais.

“When we were able to identify the molecular basis of the inflammatory response to amyloid beta, it became clear that THC-like compounds that the nerve cells make themselves may be involved in protecting the cells from dying.”
And they’ve reportedly already found a drug candidate called J147 that appears to have the same effects as THC, so this might be the way they can test the effects of THC without the government getting in the way.

The results have been published in Aging and Mechanisms of Disease.

I’d asserted several times that once real medical effects were showen to work, there would be analog drugs developed. It is the history of medicine. Plant molecules identified, extracted, modified and both enhanced and focused, patented and sold. From aspirin to digitalis to cocaine (and all the little *caines) and more. Looks like THC is headed the same way.

But I still want to get some of that yeast…

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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27 Responses to Hey Simon! MJ and Alzheimer’s

  1. omanuel says:

    Just in time!

  2. E.M.Smith says:

    We’ll see if it’s just in time… I might have a lead on them ;-)

  3. BobN says:

    I have RA and recently started taking some MJ for the pain, it reduces it nicely. The edibles last much longer and you don’t have to smoke them. Anyone with pain should give it a try.

  4. tom0mason says:

    Watch out at the eateries as hordes of giggly elderly with the ‘munchies’ arrive knowing exactly what is on the menu…
    or not.

  5. p.g.sharrow says:

    Another ingredient for my cooking or brewing maybe? medicinal purposes only, of course.
    Cannabis has been a natural healing herb longer then humans have existed. It is a plant that copies brain compounds that are beneficial to many of the workings of the human body. The Giant Apes have protected the plants from other animals for a very long time and is very likely the very first human cultivated plant…pg

  6. Pingback: THC and Alzheimer’s | Petrossa's Blog

  7. IIRC, THC without enough CBD causes problems, so the “pure” medically-approved synthesised drug may cause various psychoses where using the whole plant-derived mixture wouldn’t. Getting hold of some natural grass remains illegal, though, which is really a major annoyance. Still, since the natural product can’t be patented, it’s looking like even if the THC does as well as implied then it won’t actually be available and we’ll be limited to the patented version with more side-effects.

  8. Jason Calley says:

    There was a story going around maybe 15 or 16 years ago… There used to be various references on the web, but a quick search just now did not turn anything up; I suspect it has been scrubbed — and anyone who thinks that some subjects do not get “disappeared” or at least “tamped down”, is not paying attention. Anyway, here is my memory of it, so if anyone can correct me, please do.

    Back around 2000 or shortly before, a young man in Tallahassee, Florida borrowed the (relatively new) family car for the evening. He was stopped by police and gave permission for the car to be searched, at which point a small amount of MJ residue was found in a pipe under the seat. The young man was arrested and the car was seized. The man was soon out of jail, but the police kept the car. The man’s father tried to have his car returned but failed, and so not only was his car gone, but he was still liable to make the payments on it. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, but a close second is the anger of a father who happens to be a Professor at Florida State University, and something of an expert in genetics. He took the gene for THC synthesis and inserted it into an orange and developed a strain of “hot oranges” which would make you high if you ate them. Otherwise, they appeared normal and could be bred from seed for an unlimited number of trees. The seeds were passed out to friends and acquaintances. At some point the police became aware of the project and approached the Professor for information. He wanted his car back. They wanted to know where the seeds had gone. A quiet deal was struck, the car was returned and the Professor agreed that he would no longer dabble in THC oranges or their seeds.

    There are some obvious questions. Is the story true? Are there still “hot oranges” out there? If the story is NOT true, then is it possible? If so, then why just oranges — why not oak trees, or tomatoes, or green peppers, or crab grass? If this technology can splice a THC gene into a different species, then why on earth hasn’t it become common place? It is not rocket science, not today. What happens to drug laws when any species or variety of plant can supply any natural drug?

    For me, the more interesting question is, who has the ability to scrub stories from the Internet? And why THIS story?

  9. Jason – it’s probably just a story, given the time it takes to grow an orange-tree big-enough to get oranges and seeds to grow more of them. On the other hand, it seems likely that genetic engineering could insert the gene to make various cannabinoids into some organisms, though I expect they’d be more likely to try it in a bacterium like E. Coli where the reproduction process is a lot quicker. At the moment E. Coli has been engineered to produce various alcohols as a way of getting fuel-precursors produced cheaply.

    Given the effects, it could be a big problem is these engineered bacteria get into the wild….

  10. Jason Calley says:

    What possible damage could be done by a GMO bacterium in the wild?

    This is another case of “is this story accurate?” Dunno…

  11. E.M.Smith says:

    Since it can take up to seven years, or more, to get oranges from seed, I would vote for story

    It is also much easier to work with other species like bacteria or yeast (they can actually incorporate some genes just by eating them).

    That said, gene insertion in things like worms is now a high school project and very easy.

    E. coli, as Simon pointed out, has a major issue in the wild (and YOU are ‘the wild’ ).

    I would likey use the tomato as it is easy to work with, does well in greenhouses, and not prone to rampant going native. Besides it tastes good :-)

    But not oranges. At 28 years for 4 generations and several acres for enough plants to find the ones that ‘took’; it is just way impractical and besides, the seeds are recalcitrant and hard to sprout.

    Can it be done? Yes you could do the gene transplant. Why not? The ubiquitous MJ all over is my guess. The laws would just change to “any plant or substance containing THC is illegal”.

    How hard is unknown. You would need to find and isolate the genes and it might take several. They might produce precursors thaat don’t survive in other species (the host might need to be a knockout for some other gene enzyme, like citric acid at high levels might interfere) So it goes.

    One doesn’t scrub the internet, the search engine gets tuned. Hot stories lose rank when the story fades. Over time other stories with the same keywords pop up and get in the way. It is still in the search results, if you would only read all 145,863,280 of them…. Then add in folks pass on the hot story, then someone like me tosses cold water on them… Over time some remove it so they don’t look as gullible and it becomes hard to find, other times whole sites go away (from death to lack of interest) and new sites don’t put up “that old story” so things are gradually forgotten. So it goes.

    But possible? Certainly. The yeast version argues for a simple gene map without too much biochem conflict. I’d likely prefere a lactobacillus that didn’t inhabit animals so I could make magic yogurt, but that would be risky ( it might figure out how to survive in animals afterall and even a small amount living in you could be a problem… also bacteria like to put genes on a key ring called a plasmid that they swap around… would be a bad day when they swapped it to normal gut bacteria and you ended up O.D. Bonkers 24x7x365…)

    But doing it with oranges would just be a long slow PITA compared to tomatoes or potatoes or carrots.

  12. E.M.Smith says:

    Why GMO is evil… that klebsiella story is likely a hyped vrrsion of reality. I’d guess the bug was made and testing showed it killed plants, but escape risk was low and it wouldn’t live well in the wild (a parasitic plant bacteria without plants doesnt survive well…)

    So a juiced up version was presented to a true believer audience.

    Do I think someday someone will screw up royally and an evil escape happen? Yup. Especially in China where lying is common, shortcuts the norm, and following the rules modest…

    Per sterile soil: some truth and a lot of sellers puff in it… I’ve walked in orchards where methyl bromide or chloride is used. Yes, toxic. But the weeds return and lots of stuff grows around the edges… left alone the soil goes back to wild in a few years. Hydroponics grows plants without any active soil at all…

    Highest risk, IMHO, is from commercially accepted GMOs and latent effects. Like allergy formation to BT toxin or finding a cross reaction of GMO soy creating peanut allergies.

  13. Jason Calley says:

    Hey E.M.! Hey Simon! I think you two are both right about the time to produce orange seeds being a deal breaker on the truth of the hot oranges story. I do still wonder why we have not seen some similar thing take place with another organism though. The convenient thing about having some common plant be the new THC source is the “how do you know?” factor. Suppose it were in normal looking tobacco — or Bermuda grass — or any of a billion bushes in your local national park. Would the gummint actually test every tree in the forest, every weed in the field?

  14. Jason Calley says:

    By the way, lest I be guilty of straying too far from the subject of the post, if THC really DOES prove effective for treating Alzheimer what a tremendous gift that will be. MJ has been illegal for decades — and millions of people still grew and smoked it, mostly just for recreation. If THC works against Alzheimer, even if it remains illegal, people will manage to medicate their loved ones.

    Some years back I was undergoing cancer treatments that made me nauseous. I was touched and flattered by how many of my friends offered to get MJ for me if I wanted them to. If a medication works, people will get it.

  15. Glenn999 says:

    Carl Spackler: This is a hybrid. This is a cross, ah, of Bluegrass, Kentucky Bluegrass, Featherbed Bent, and Northern California Sensemilia. The amazing stuff about this is, that you can play 36 holes on it in the afternoon, take it home and just get stoned to the bejeezus-belt that night on this stuff.

  16. E.M.Smith says:

    @Jason: They only need to test the one with a crowd around it… complaining about their allergies, with cases of chips & dip, and sleeping…

    True Story:

    At the height of Reefer Madness being held up as a scare story, about 1970, in P.E. Class, we had the Drug Indoctrination Speech. A tray was circulated holding two fake joints in white papers (so we could be informed what to avoid… though how the P.E. teacher knew to roll a joint was left unexplained…). Behind me, the Hot Jocks were mutter arguing about something, and giggling…

    When the tray returned to the front it contained three joints, two with a different color rolling paper than the original…

    Despite pleading and posturing from The Stage, nobody knew anything :-)

    One of the few times I felt accepted by my “peers”… they knew I heard and looked back…

  17. cdquarles says:

    People, don’t forget viruses. They are nature’s GMO mechanism, used to minimize loss of information.

    Anyway, some of this stuff has been done using tobacco plants. There was a version of this 30 years ago that could make albumin and another one that could make immune globulin that I was aware of at the time.

  18. cdquarles says:

    @ Jason, absolutely. I knew someone with bad cancer. When the semi-synthetic forms were released, she was put on it to see if it would help her pain and nausea.

    Personally, given my chemistry training, I prefer pure chemicals and/or known mixtures to the ‘what might I get’ from biologicals. Biologicals produce 1000s of chemicals and a fair few of these chemicals to suppress predation. Sometimes that’s good, sometimes it’s neutral and sometimes it’s bad.

  19. cdquarles says:

    Oh, I forgot. Any chemical man can make, so can the rest of nature. Any chemical the rest of nature can make, so can man.

  20. Regis Llanfar says:

    I just wanna live to 200 (as a start). I figure I’m set (my parents are too old – 80’s)…just have to wait for biotech to advance a bit more (10-20 years is forever these days).

  21. Gail Combs says:

    As far as I am concerned youth is wasted on the young.

    “99-year-old billionaire David Rockefeller has successfully undergone his sixth heart transplant surgery in the last 38 years.” The old bussard turned 101 on June 12, 1916.

  22. p.g.sharrow says:

    GOD giveth and Government Bureaucrats taketh.
    They are SERVANTS not MASTERS.
    We Don’t Need Them! …pg

  23. AlzScience says:

    Thanks for posting! I reported on this same study recently and I agree the results are very exciting. THC has repeatedly shown great success fighting inflammation and I think the scientific community is beginning to accept this fact. However I’m not so sure it will put us on the path toward legalization as THC is only one of a large family of cannabinoids. I see future research focusing on the use of synthetic cannabinoids or cannabinoid receptor agonists in the form of pills. The psychoactive effects of marijuana could prevent some people from using it safely as a health remedy, such as people who regularly operate heavy machinery or people who need to be constantly “present” to take care of family members.

  24. Pingback: Marijuana compound removes toxic Alzheimer’s protein from the brain … | pindanpost

  25. ozspeaksup says:

    man tried making seawater too..but the fish placed in it died.
    its got naff all to do with purity= a shitload to do with ability to patent n profit.
    how dare we plebs find something that works for alzheimers or cancer or a myriad of other issues , and the pharmas NOT be able to control and profit from it?
    commercial cloned plants to my mind arent such a good idea
    wildgrown NONhydro natural as nature created would be far more preferable.

  26. E.M.Smith says:


    Just as a FWIW:

    My statements that I expect the drug path to be via extract, purify, modify and patent is not advocacy, just observation. I much prefer the idea of “as nature made it” for a whole lot of things (tapioca not so much ;-) but that isn’t how our Global Drug Monstrosity Industry operates…

    (Though that hasn’t stopped me from putting a couple of Herbal Medicine books in my library and some commercial medicinal plant seeds in my frozen ark…)

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