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Pot-Like Compound May Slow Alzheimer's

Tests on Rats Show Less Brain Inflammation, Better Memory With Synthetic Pot

Why This Drug?

"Anti-inflammatories in plants and antioxidants are a dime a dozen," Wenk says. "They're just everywhere."

"The important thing, though, is that they not have too many side effects and that they actually get in the brain.

"So that's what makes a ... drug like a cannabinoid so useful," he explains.

"It [this compound] does something that no other anti-inflammatory that I've tested in our model has ever done, and that's that it reduces inflammation in an old brain," Wenk says. "Old brains are different than young brains."

Alzheimer's Prevention

The drug hasn't been tested against Alzheimer's in people.

But if the research pans out, people might one day take such drugs to head off Alzheimer's decades later, Wenk notes.

"The problem is, who would take it?" he says. "We don't have reliable early tests [for Alzheimer's] -- not yet."

"So do we have to treat everyone? Well, that ends up being very expensive. We don't have an answer to that question yet," Wenk says.

Much more work lies ahead, but Wenk sounds hopeful.

"This is something that might actually happen in my lifetime, before I get to the point where I have to worry about it," Wenk says. "So from that standpoint, I think it's very positive."

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