Neuroscientists at the University of South Florida show that extremely low doses of THC reduce the production of amyloid beta found in a soluble form in most ageing brains and prevent abnormal accumulation of this protein.

"We found that the compound directly affects Alzheimer's pathology by decreasing amyloid beta levels, inhibiting its aggregation and enhancing mitochondrial function," explained Chuanhai Cao, a neuroscientist at Byrd Alzheimer's Institute and University of South Florida's college of pharmacy.

The researchers point out that at low doses, the therapeutic benefits of THC appear to prevail over the associated risks of THC toxicity and memory impairment.

"The findings may lead to the development of related compounds that are safe, legal and useful in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease," concluded Nee Nabar, co-author.

The team is now studying the effects of a drug cocktail that includes THC, caffeine as well as other natural compounds in a cellular model of Alzheimer's disease.

The findings appeared in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease.

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