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This New Study Will Test If an Endocannabinoid Can Treat Alzheimer’s

By Leo Bear-McGuinness

Published: Jun 26, 2023   

Image credit: iStock

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Researchers from the University of Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio have begun a study to see if the body’s own cannabinoids can help treat Alzheimer’s disease.

The research team are observing whether animals with elevated levels of a certain endocannabinoid, 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG), are less likely to develop advanced Alzheimer’s.

2-AG is similar to THC; both chemicals activate the brain’s endocannabinoid CB1 receptor. However, an enzyme produced by the body called monoacylglycerol (MAG) lipase tends to inhibit the effects of 2-AG.

“Eighty-five percent of 2-AG in the brain is degraded by this enzyme,” Chu Chen, a professor in the Department of Cellular and Integrative Physiology at UT Health San Antonio, said in a statement published on June 23.

To see what happens when 2-AG if uninhibited by MAG lipase, Chen and his colleagues inactivated the enzyme’s gene in lab animals that have an equivalent condition to Alzheimer’s disease.

The research team will continue to monitor the animals to see if an increase in circulating 2-AG can produce anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective effects in the animals’ brains.

“This approach would lead to a novel and efficacious therapy for Alzheimer’s disease,” Chen said.

Alzheimer’s disease is the leading cause of dementia in senior adults in the US.


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