In fact, the Scripps Research Study said, THC is "a considerably superior inhibitor of [amyloid plaque] aggregation" to several currently approved drugs for treating the disease.
According to the new Scripps Research Study, which used both computer modeling and biochemical assays, THC inhibits the enzyme acetylcholinesterase (AChE), which acts as a "molecular chaperone" to accelerate the formation of amyloid plaque in the brains of Alzheimer victims.
Although experts disagree on whether the presence of beta-amyloid plaques in those areas critical to memory and cognition is a symptom or cause, it remains a significant hallmark of the disease.
With Marijuana's strong inhibitory abilities, the study said, THC "may provide an improved therapeutic for Alzheimer's disease" that would treat "both the symptoms and progression" of the disease.
"While we are certainly not advocating the use of illegal drugs, these findings offer convincing evidence that THC possesses remarkable inhibitory qualities, especially when compared to AChE inhibitors currently available to patients," said Kim Janda, Ph.D., who is Ely R. Callaway, Jr. Professor of Chemistry at Scripps Research, a member of The Skaggs Institute for Chemical Biology, and director of the Worm Institute of Research and Medicine.
"In a test against propidium, one of the most effective inhibitors reported to date, THC blocked AChE-induced aggregation completely, while the propidium did not.
Although our study is far from final, it does show that there is a previously unrecognized molecular mechanism through which THC may directly affect the progression of Alzheimer's disease."
As the new Scripps Institute Study points out, any new treatment that could halt or even slow the progression of Alzheimer's disease would have a major impact on the quality of life for patients, as well as reducing the staggering health care costs associated with the disease.
Medical Marijuana Alzheimer on CNN
Alzheimer's disease is the leading cause of dementia among Baby Booomers and Seniors, and the numbers are growing.
The Alzheimer's Association estimates 4.5 million Americans have the disease, a figure that could reach as high as 16 million by 2050.