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Marijuana may actually improve memory and help ward off Alzheimer’s disease, according to US research.
The synthetic drug WIN-55212-2 (WIN), similar to tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in cannabis, has been shown to reduce brain inflammation and encourage the formation of new brain cells in rats.
WIN is not used in humans because of its psychoactive effects, but rats treated with it showed improved learning and memory capability.
Yannick Marchalant, study co-author and research assistant professor of psychology at Ohio State University, said: “The end goal is not to recommend the use of THC in humans to reduce Alzheimer’s.
“We need to find exactly which receptors are most crucial, and ideally lead to the development of drugs that specifically activate those receptors.
“We hope a compound can be found that can target both inflammation and neurogenesis, which would be the most efficient way to produce the best effects.”
The findings have been released at the Society for Neuroscience meeting in Washington.
Copyright Press Association 2008