Drug Law

Marijuana Delays Huntington’s Disease in Animal Tests

| by NORML

By Paul Armentano

The combined administration of the plant cannabinoids THC and CBD (cannabidiol) provide neuroprotection in rat models of Huntington’s Disease (HD), according to experimental data to be published in the Journal of Neuroscience Research.

Huntington’s Disease is an inherited degenerative brain disorder characterized by motor abnormalities and dementia produced by selective lesions in the cerebral cortex and, in particular, the striatum. There are presently no known conventional therapies available to alleviate HD symptoms or delay HD-associated striatal degeneration.

An international team of investigators from Spain, Italy, and the United Kingdom assessed whether THC and CBD-rich botanical extracts could delay the progress of the disease in laboratory animals. Authors reported, “[O]ur data demonstrate that a [one to one] combination of THC and CBD-enriched botanical extracts protected striatal neurons against … toxicity.” By contrast, the administration of individual, selective synthetic cannabinoid agonists did not produce similarly favorable outcomes.

Investigators concluded, “In our opinion, these data provide sufficient preclinical evidence to justify a clinical evaluation of [one to one THC to CBD] cannabis-based medicine … as a neuroprotective agent capable of delaying disease progression in patients affected by HD, a disorder that is currently poorly man- aged in the clinic, prompting an urgent need for clinical trials with agents showing positive results in preclinical studies.”

Additional studies documenting the disease modifying potential of marijuana is available in the NORML handbook, Emerging Clinical Applications For Cannabis & Cannabinoids: Fourth Edition, available online here.