Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Marijuana ineffective as an Alzheimer's treatment: UBC-Vancouver Coastal Health research

The benefits of marijuana in tempering or reversing the effects of Alzheimer's disease have been challenged in a new study by researchers at the University of British Columbia and Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute.

The findings, published in the current issue of the journal Current Alzheimer Research, could lower expectations about the benefits of medical marijuana in combating various cognitive diseases and help redirect future research to more promising therapeutics.

Previous studies using animal models showed that HU210, a synthetic form of the compounds found in marijuana, reduced the toxicity of plaques and promoted the growth of new neurons. Those studies used rats carrying amyloid protein, the toxin that forms plaques in the brains of Alzheimer's victims.

The new study, led by Dr. Weihong Song, Canada Research Chair in Alzheimer's Disease and a professor of psychiatry in the UBC Faculty of Medicine, was the first to test those findings using mice carrying human genetic mutations that cause Alzheimer's disease – widely considered to be a more accurate model for the disease in humans.

"As scientists, we begin every study hoping to be able to confirm beneficial effects of potential therapies, and we hoped to confirm this for the use of medical marijuana in treating Alzheimer's disease," says Song, a member of the Brain Research Centre at UBC and VCH Research Institute and Director of Townsend Family Laboratories at UBC.

"But we didn't see any benefit at all. Instead, our study pointed to some detrimental effects."

Over a period of several weeks, some of the Alzheimer's-afflicted mice were given varying doses of HU210 – also known as cannabinoids – which is 100 to 800 times more potent than the marijuana compounds. Their memory was then tested.

The mice treated with HU210 did no better than untreated mice, with those given low doses of HU210 performing the worst. The researchers also found that HU210-treated mice had just as much plaque formation and the same density of neurons as the control group. The group given higher doses actually had fewer brain cells.

"Our study shows that HU210 has no biological or behavioural effect on the established Alzheimer's disease model," says Song, the Jack Brown and Family Professor and Chair in Alzheimer's Disease. "More studies should be done before we place much hope in marijuana's benefits for Alzheimer's patients."

Alzheimer's disease is a neurodegenerative disorder characterized by progressive cognitive deterioration and is the most common form of dementia.

The Alzheimer Society of Canada estimates that the disease affects close to 300,000 Canadians and accounts for two-thirds of all cases of dementia. Approximately $5.5 billion per year is spent caring for persons with Alzheimer's and related dementias in Canada. By 2031, about 750,000 Canadians will suffer from Alzheimer's and related dementias.

The Alzheimer's Association in the U.S. estimates there are approximately 500,000 Americans younger than 65 with Alzheimer's or other dementia.

The research was supported by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Jack Brown and Family Alzheimer's Research Foundation, the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research and a donation from the David Townsend Family.

Townsend Family Laboratories was established at The University of British Columbia with a donation of $7.5 million from the David Townsend Family. The research centre is dedicated to integrating the basic and clinical research for finding the underlying mechanism and novel diagnostic biomarkers for Alzheimer's Disease and developing interventions to prevent and treat this devastating disease.

The UBC Faculty of Medicine provides innovative programs in the health and life sciences, teaching students at the undergraduate, graduate and postgraduate levels, and generates more than $200 million in research funding each year. In 2007/08, out of the total UBC research endeavour, 53 per cent, or $247 million, came from academic and clinical teams in the Faculty of Medicine. For more information, visit

The Brain Research Centre comprises more than 200 investigators with multidisciplinary expertise in neuroscience research ranging from the test tube, to the bedside, to industrial spin-offs. The centre is a partnership of UBC and VCH Research Institute. For more information, visit

Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute (VCHRI) is the research body of Vancouver Coastal Health Authority, which includes BC's largest academic and teaching health sciences centres: VGH, UBC Hospital, and GF Strong Rehabilitation Centre. In academic partnership with the University of British Columbia, VCHRI brings innovation and discovery to patient care, advancing healthier lives in healthy communities across British Columbia, Canada, and beyond.

Hilary Thomson | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia
21.10.2016 | Universitätsklinikum Magdeburg

nachricht New potential cancer treatment using microwaves to target deep tumors
12.10.2016 | University of Texas at Arlington

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>