Alzheimer's disease is the leading cause of dementia among the elderly, and with the ever-increasing size of this population, cases of Alzheimer's disease are expected to triple over the next 50 years. Consequently, the development of treatments that slow or halt the disease progression have become imperative to both improve the quality of life for patients and reduce the health care costs attributable to Alzheimer's disease. Here, we demonstrate that the active component of marijuana, 9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), competitively inhibits the enzyme acetylcholinesterase (AChE) as well as prevents AChE-induced amyloid -peptide (A) aggregation, the key pathological marker of Alzheimer's disease. Computational modeling of the THC-AChE interaction revealed that THC binds in the peripheral anionic site of AChE, the critical region involved in amyloidgenesis. Compared to currently approved drugs prescribed for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease, THC is a considerably superior inhibitor of A aggregation, and this study provides a previously unrecognized molecular mechanism through which cannabinoid molecules may directly impact the progression of this debilitating disease.
In short, from another source:
La Jolla, CA: THC inhibits the formation of amyloid plaque, the primary marker for Alzheimer's disease (AD), far more effectively than approved medications, according to preclinical data to be published in the journal Molecular Pharmaceutics.
Investigators at The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California reported that THC inhibits the enzyme responsible for the aggregation of amyloid plaque in a manner "considerably superior" to approved Alzheimer's drugs such as donepezil and tacrine.
Source: http://pubs.acs.org/cgi-bin/sample.cgi/mpohbp/asap/abs/mp060066m.html (via Metafilter)