Puff-a-Day Helps Older Rats Remember

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Of marijuana, that is. It may even retard Alzheimer’s.

A daily puff of a compound like marijuana, the plant blamed for ruining potheads’ recall, might help maintain memory in old age, researchers who tried it on rats reported today at a neuroscience meeting.

Elderly rats remembered their way around a swimming pool and could find hidden resting spots after Yannick Marchalant and his colleagues at Ohio State University gave them a compound that mimics the effect of marijuana on the brain’s cannabis receptors. The marijuana-like drug, known as WIN-55212-2, spurred new brain cell growth and reduced inflammation, the researchers said.

Inflammation in the brain may be linked to the development or progression of Alzheimer’s, a progressive disease that destroys brain cells, disrupting the memory and cognitive capacity of some 4.5 million Americans, some scientists believe. Marchalant and his colleagues have been hunting for drugs to reduce inflammation.

Read the rest. (Thanks to Bill Shefte).

8:27 am on November 20, 2008