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Marijuana Compound Removes Toxic Alzheimer’s Protein from the Brain (futurism.com)
156 points by miraj 95 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 50 comments



Problems with this terrible title:

1. In vitro petri dish testing is a million light years away from showing a compound works in humans.

2. This is a particularly bad problem in brain diseases as getting your compound to cross the blood-brain barrier in correct therapeutic quantities is extremely difficult.

3. We have lots of direct antibodies that kill beta amyloid in vivo that are very advanced in human trials. The problem now is that they often cause micro-damage when removing various forms of amyloid protein or have been shown to be administered far too late when the damage is already done.

4. It's still not clear that beta amyloid is even the main causal agent of Alzheimers!

In general, if you see someone touting a low effort, pre-clinical study as major medical breakthrough, start hitting the downvote button. I'm disappointed this even got to the main page.


Yeah over the past few years I've been convinced that beta amyloid is a not a cause of Alzheimer's but a red herring symptom. Too many drugs have failed.

Maybe its a disease caused by glial cell dysfunction where beta amyloid is just the most obvious but not most important piece of trash that collects in the brain. And it's just a terrible coincidence injections of beta amyloid have similar effects as Alzheimer's.


IMO it's neuronal autophagy failing. Plaques accumulating and PH being thrown off are symptoms of that.


Based on your hunch do you think the FOX04 peptide, which in mice showed promising results in destroying senescent cells and reducing arterial plaques, might be a solution?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FOXO4

http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2017/03/molecule-kills-elderl...


> getting your compound to cross the blood-brain barrier in correct therapeutic quantities is extremely difficult.

It's well-established THC crosses the blood brain barrier due to its mental effects. Here are some more evidential links to support this:

http://profofpot.com/thc-blood-brain-barrier/

http://www.leafscience.com/2013/11/03/harvard-researchers-ex...

http://www.medic8.com/healthguide/marijuana/marijuana-and-th...

http://www.salon.com/2015/02/01/why_smoking_pot_feels_so_goo...


It's still fun to read about, although acknowledged I have the privilege of not being directly affected by Alzheimer's.

It's also really useful when there's comment on Hacker News pointing out the things that have been glossed over in an over-hyped article, so thanks. (no sarcasm intended)


> start hitting the downvote button

I know this will get downvoted but it's too bad there's no downvote button on HN


That's only true if you have less than 500 karma.

Edit: although stories can't be downvoted.


downvoted for irony


article is a value-added summary of: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/06/160629095609.h...

which is based on this press release: http://www.salk.edu/news-release/cannabinoids-remove-plaque-...

original paper here: https://www.nature.com/articles/npjamd201612 "Amyloid proteotoxicity initiates an inflammatory response blocked by cannabinoids"

original paper: https://www.nature.com/articles/npjamd201612.pdf


Thank you for linking to real science. The fluff-piece is almost unbearable. Poor editing and foolish attempts at humor. Science for dummies.

"But THC can also bind to them in much the same way, and when they do, they start messing with your brain’s ability to communicate with itself. The [SIC] can be a good and a bad thing, because while you might forget something important or suddenly be incapable of swinging a baseball bat, you’ll probably feel amazing, and want to eat all the snacks:"


thank you! This type of work is super valuable


Hmm, seems like it's time to seriously consider extracting some THC and CBD. I'm looking at this: https://magicalbutter.com/. Anyone have some experience with this type of gear?


I wouldn't waste my money on something like that when you can do something similar with a glass jar and a sous vide circulator.

http://www.sousweed.com/blog/2015/6/13/sous-vide-cannabis-bu... is a recipe I've followed with great results.

Edit: Plus now you can sous vide meats and whatever. It's a win-win.


Their marketing looks quite shady to me: no technical details, uses Facebook likes as a quality metric, defective link to the one third-party review. You definitely want to see a teardown and a proper review of something like this, before you buy it.

If I was going to experiment with a new extraction method, my choice would be to acquire a soxhlet extractor, and experiment with ethanol as a solvent, for producing budder. https://www.erowid.org/archive/rhodium/pdf/soxhlet4dummies.p..., page 2 shows a DIY version that doesn't require you to purchase glassware. I would recommend putting the whole setup in a larger pot of water, so that you can more easily control the temperature. You can use the same setup as a still, to extract ethanol from something like cheap vodka.

As for methods that I have actually tried, cold butane extraction produces spectacularly clear oil, which eventually dries to shatter. Do freeze the weed first, don't freeze your hand. Do leave the extract spread out in a thin layer to evaporate until it forms hard shatter, otherwise some very scary butane will remain in the product.


Yes, the emphasis on Facebook likes does make one wonder. Thanks for your feedback and suggestions.


> Hmm, seems like it's time to seriously consider extracting some THC and CBD

It's great if researchers can find new treatments, but I think people get over-enthusiastic with medical cannabis

> Anyone have some experience with this type of gear?

I would rather vaporize weed. Very simple and (likely) safe, effect is immediate and it's easier to adjust the quantity as you go.

I'm not sure about the gear but I cooked cannabis butter a few times (quite easy without special equipment). It's more difficult to control the quantity. You need to be careful to not ingest too much cannabis, because then it's too late and it can be very powerful. Conversely, if not enough, you have to wait for an hour or so to be sure. Another issue I had is that I ended up with a nice cake that I had to ration carefully as it was very psychoactive. I couldn't simply eat it whenever I felt like. Besides, the weed doesn't add a good taste (at best neutral, depending on the quantity).

I'm sure that these issues can be overcome with some experience but is it worth the trouble?


Take care, eaten is the only way I've ever seen anyone have a really bad experience ending in a trip to in an ambulance from the results of anxiety, although no long term physical damage was done, nonetheless this was an unpleasant experience and to be avoided if possible! If you are unfamiliar with the effects of cannabis / marijuana talk with someone who is about what to expect, if you or others you trust would classify you on the anxious end of the spectrum, the advice is doubly applied, paranoia is unpleasant enough, when coupled with the knowledge that the strength of the effect is going to get worse before it gets better can be very stressful.


Thanks for the suggestions. Your psychoactive cake sounds very intriguing!


Butter is okay but I highly recommend just making an extract you can vaporize. Most people don't realize that Delta-9-THC turns even more psychoactive when it undergoes a liver pass, converting into another delta analogue of the molecule.

Pure acetone (no colorants or scents added) and a hot plate is all you need. Acetone wash your ground material for 10 seconds, filter/strain through coffee filters onto a hot plate set at ~150F (make sure this is in a well-ventilated room) and let evaporate for an hour.

Done and ready to go. Far safer than most other extraction methods, which rely upon high gas pressures or even more highly-flammable (and explosive) substances.


One problem with acetone is it's pretty hygroscopic, so it will absorb water from the atmosphere or any plant material that's not bone dry. Then you're left with water in the extract when the acetone is boiled off. Alcohols are worse as they form azeotropes with water. Also the more polar things (basically anything other than -ane) tend to extract sugars, pigments, etc.

Saturated unsubstituted hydrocarbons (e.g. hexane) are really nice to work with, e.g. provide similar results to butane at room temperature/pressure. Heptane is nice because it can in principle be "natural" if sourced from Jeffrey pine oil, but I haven't seen that for sale...


"Then you're left with water in the extract when the acetone is boiled off."

This is why you've got it on the hot plate for an hour - at 150F the acetone's gone in 20 minutes, you need the other 40 minutes to purge the water from the extract.

Heptane is also about 6x the price of acetone.


I read a number of reviews of it while considering getting one. It seems to me the most error-prone part of extracting is the decarboxylation, and this device doesn't do that. (There apparently is a device that does that, but the name escapes me just now.) So it doesn't seem to provide a whole lot of value.


This seems like making your own wine. Fun, but less practical than going down to the store and choosing from a large variety of professionally produced products.


An older relative of mine uses a machine like that. He uses the butter to bake edibles for his dad. It's really helped with neuropathy and pain management.


Thank you. I think I will give it a try as well. We are running out of options for my father - perhaps this would be a good Hail Mary.


Just do your research on dosing and what your father will tolerate. It may be more beneficial to get one of the strands that gives no high. Good luck , I'm sure it's not easy.


Thank you. Yes, it is figuring out the dosing that concerns me.


To reiterate what someone else has already said, vaporizing is indisputably the way to go. When vaporizing, you can use a bit, wait 5-10 minutes, and then decide whether to use more. With edibles you don't know if you got the dosage right or not for 60+ minutes.


Thanks. This point does stand out as an important takeaway from all that I've read here.


I've had good results with a normal crock pot on the high setting overnight.


That sounds like worth trying, given your experience.


if you happen to have a moka pot around it's the same idea. lower heat, load the bottom with a fat, and decarboxylate the herb first.


wow.. who would have ever thought that MJ would be good for memory..


Life / career long pot smoking scientists?


Marijuana high decreases short term memory. Alzheimer's decreases short term memory. Not quite sure how this works..


> Marijuana high decreases short term memory

There haven't been enough studies to actually prove this. Most show an issue while being high (and many studies combine marijuana usage with alcohol), but nothing that directly shows negative long-term effects. If this study is held up by their further human trials they mention, then it would indicate that pop-culture is probably wrong.


I thought I had read a study once and the abstract said it as follows (which I found amusing):

* Marijuana causes short-term short-term memory loss, but doesn't cause long-term short-term memory loss.

Unfortunately I can't find the study info now (@ work, so I'm kinda limited on spending too much time research pot...)


A very exciting petri dish result! If this actually works in an animal model, it could be a true breakthrough. I am wondering if THC in vivo might undergo some kind of subtle metabolism after being ingested or smoked so that it still binds to cannaboid receptors, but doesn't affect beta amyloid.


If I recall correctly (from a radiolab interview w/ Dr.Tsai [0]), something like 99% of animal model successes don't transfer to humans.

[0] http://www.radiolab.org/story/bringing-gamma-back/


Be that as it may (and, yes, if mice had access to all human medical knowledge, no mouse would probably ever die of cancer), I'd still be more hopeful about an animal study than one done on a cell culture. In fact, given the relative safety of marijuana and THC, and the severity of the disease, I could even see going straight to humans to see if it can abate symptoms in actual Alzheimer's patients.


I skimmed the article. I'm way out of my comfort zone here, but I think they covered that. I think they said cannabinoids are converted to something lose that stops the progression to cell death.


The problem is this will never get funded or passed due to the Big Pharma lobbyists.


All that really needs to happen is federal legalization. Once that's done, it doesn't matter whether pharma is behind it or not. I bet though they would quickly release all sorts of cannabinoid products. (Not everyone wants to be high/timed release doses etc)


That is basically what I meant though. I don't see it being an easy sell to get federal legalization.


Possibly, but it isn't what was written. Besides, there are lots of countries that aren't the US who might be more willing to approve this sort of thing. After all, those governments actually have stake in lowering health care costs (if this does, in fact, make costs lower) because they fund health care through taxes.

It isn't like "big pharma" won't make money off of it, since they'll be able to grow their own crops, complete with GMO help to produce more of the "helpful" stuff, afterwards concentrating it into pill or inhaler form and checking for purity. The GMO and the final pill can likely be patented, giving them reason to pressure the government by lobbying. Something similar with health insurers, as lowering costs is in their best interests since Alzheimer's can be an expensive disease.

The main lobby they'd have to worry about in the US is from places like private prisons and the like, because they can lose money with this - but even that is doubtful unless they change the laws for recreational use.

Additionally, public opinion has been increasingly changing for this sort of thing, and that is starting to be shown through government policies (though slowly with the current administration's attitude), as evidenced by the fast-tracking of MDMA trials treating PTSD. I'm not sure that could have happened 20 years ago, and definitely not 30 years ago during the "Just say no!" heyday.


It seems like there should be enough lobby money there. Both tobacco companies and pharma companies could benefit from it.


Tired old argument. Just because X natural product (eg THC) is not patentable does not mean that you can't just come up with analog Y with similar activity, and patent that. Taxol for example.


That might have been true 5-10 years ago, but there's a lot of $$$ in the industry now...enough to fund development of something like this.


Marijuana seems to be approaching the peak of inflated expectations of the Hype Cycle https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hype_cycle. Pretty much nothing can't be healed by smoking weed. Let's hope it soon goes back to normalcy.




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