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  Marijuana-Like Chemicals Helps Treat Parkinson's
Posted by CN Staff on February 07, 2007 at 10:34:45 PT
For Immediate Release 
Source: EurekAlert 

medical Stanford, Calif. -- Marijuana-like chemicals in the brain may point to a treatment for the debilitating condition of Parkinson's disease. In a study to be published in the Feb. 8 issue of Nature, researchers from the Stanford University School of Medicine report that endocannabinoids, naturally occurring chemicals found in the brain that are similar to the active compounds in marijuana and hashish, helped trigger a dramatic improvement in mice with a condition similar to Parkinson's.

"This study points to a potentially new kind of therapy for Parkinson's disease," said senior author Robert Malenka, MD, PhD, the Nancy Friend Pritzker Professor in Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. "Of course, it is a long, long way to go before this will be tested in humans, but nonetheless, we have identified a new way of potentially manipulating the circuits that are malfunctioning in this disease."

Malenka and postdoctoral scholar Anatol Kreitzer, PhD, the study's lead author, combined a drug already used to treat Parkinson's disease with an experimental compound that can boost the level of endocannabinoids in the brain. When they used the combination in mice with a condition like Parkinson's, the mice went from being frozen in place to moving around freely in 15 minutes. "They were basically normal," Kreitzer said.

But Kreitzer and Malenka cautioned that their findings don't mean smoking marijuana could be therapeutic for Parkinson's disease.

"It turns out the receptors for cannabinoids are all over the brain, but they are not always activated by the naturally occurring endocannabinoids," said Malenka. The treatment used on the mice involves enhancing the activity of the chemicals where they occur naturally in the brain. "That is a really important difference, and it is why we think our manipulation of the chemicals is really different from smoking marijuana."

The researchers began their study by focusing on a region of the brain known as the striatum. They were interested in that region because it has been implicated in a range of brain disorders, including Parkinson's, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder and addiction.

The activity of neurons in the striatum relies on the chemical dopamine. A shortage of dopamine in the striatum can lead to Parkinson's disease, in which a person loses the ability to execute smooth motions, progressing to muscle rigidity, tremors and sometimes complete loss of movement. The condition affects 1.5 million Americans, according to the National Parkinson Foundation.

"It turns out that the striatum is much more complicated than imagined," said Malenka. The striatum consists of several different cell types that are virtually indistinguishable under the microscope. To uncover the individual contributions of the cell types, Malenka and Kreitzer used genetically modified mice in which the various cell types were labeled with a fluorescent protein that glows vivid green under a microscope. Having an unequivocal way to identify the cells allowed them to tease apart the functions of the different cell types.

Malenka's lab has long studied how the communication between different neurons is modified by experience and disease. In their examination of two types of mouse striatum cells, Kreitzer and Malenka found that a particular form of adaptation occurs in one cell type but not in the other.

Malenka said this discovery was exciting because no one had determined whether there were functional differences between the various cell types. Their study indicated that the two types of cells formed complementary circuits in the brain.

One of the circuits is thought to be involved in activating motion, while the other is thought to be involved in restraining unwanted movement. "These two circuits are critically involved in a push-pull to select the appropriate movement to perform and to inhibit the other," said Kreitzer.

Dopamine appears to modulate these two circuits in opposite ways. When dopamine is depleted, it is thought that the pathway responsible for inhibiting movement becomes overly activated - leading to the difficulty of initiating motion, the hallmark of Parkinson's disease.

Current treatment for Parkinson's includes drugs that stimulate or mimic dopamine. It turns out that the neurons Kreitzer identified as inhibiting motion had a type of dopamine receptor on them that the other cells didn't. The researchers tested a drug called quinpirole, which mimics dopamine, in mice with a condition similar to human Parkinson's disease, resulting in a small improvement in the mice.

"That was sort of expected," said Malenka. "The cool new finding came when we thought to use drugs that boost the activity of endocannabinoids." Based on prior knowledge of endocannabinoids and dopamine, they speculated that the two chemicals were working in concert to keep the inhibitory pathway in check.

When they added a drug that slows the enzymatic breakdown of endocannabinoids in the brain - URB597, being developed by Kadmus Pharmaceuticals in Irvine, Calif. - the results were striking.

"The dopamine drug alone did a little bit but it wasn't great, and the drug that targeted the enzyme that degrades endocannabinoids basically did nothing alone," Kreitzer said. "But when we gave the two together, the animals really improved dramatically."

This work was supported by a Ruth L. Kirchenstein Fellowship, the National Institutes of Health and the National Parkinson Foundation. Neither researcher has financial ties to Kadmus Pharmaceuticals.

Stanford University Medical Center integrates research, medical education and patient care at its three institutions - Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford Hospital & Clinics and Lucile Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford. For more information, please visit the Web site of the medical center's Office of Communication & Public Affairs at:

Complete Title: Enhancing Activity of Marijuana-Like Chemicals in Brain Helps Treat Parkinson's Disease

Broadcast Media Contact:
M.A. Malone at 650 723-6912:

Contact: Mitzi Baker:
Stanford University Medical Center

Source: EurekAlert (DC)
Published: February 7, 2007
Copyright: 2007 American Association for the Advancement of Science

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Comment #29 posted by potpal on February 08, 2007 at 05:51:50 PT
Reported in Europe...

[ Post Comment ]
Comment #28 posted by akira- on February 07, 2007 at 22:03:20 PT:

i check this site everyday to see what new news has been posted and when i seen "Marijuana-Like Chemicals Helps Treat Parkinson's".. it almost brought a tear to my eye.. cuz my dad has parkinsons disease, still working and taking care of me + 4 other kids.. exercises and runs daily from 2pm - 5pm.. its horrible to watch him suffer from this disease though.. if they find a cure or a GREAT treatment cuz of marijuana.. ill be more in love with it then i already am :)

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Comment #27 posted by FoM on February 07, 2007 at 20:04:00 PT
I've heard of insulation that is blown in houses but we used fiberglass bats. The new windows are draft free. It's 10 out now and the house is probably in the 80s. We are burning what we call all nighters these days. Insulation and tight windows and doors really matter when the temperature drops low. It was -5 the other night and we still stayed warm.

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Comment #26 posted by Hope on February 07, 2007 at 19:43:19 PT
I think this is the insulation I spoke of.
Warmcel Recycled Paper Insulation

and here

It's fire, mold, and insect resistant, too.

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Comment #25 posted by FoM on February 07, 2007 at 19:06:01 PT
We watch home construction shows like Flip This House. More shows are talking about being green with the use of products. I mind when I see them take a hammer to cabinets. Some seem like they are fine just older. People are trying to recycle more and more and that's a good thing.

[ Post Comment ]
Comment #24 posted by Hope on February 07, 2007 at 18:31:21 PT
That Tree Hugger site is great!
And it has some great links.

Thank you, FoM.

[ Post Comment ]

Comment #23 posted by Hope on February 07, 2007 at 18:25:46 PT
James Hardie siding
I was thinking about that. That's on my son's new house, too.

They could use something like it to make those shipping pallets out of instead of pure wood, seems to me like.

The trees, or actually, the lack of trees are probably a profound influence on what is happening to the weather now.

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Comment #22 posted by Hope on February 07, 2007 at 18:22:34 PT
A good article about this theory

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Comment #21 posted by FoM on February 07, 2007 at 18:20:52 PT
Our interior doors are made of wood where the trees are replanted. I liked that label on the doors. Lightbulbs are so simple to change and I don't miss the regular lightbulbs. I got this in my e-mail yesterday from and I bookmarked it. James Hardie siding is considered green since it is made of recycled products and we really like it. It's very strong too.

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Comment #20 posted by Hope on February 07, 2007 at 18:15:40 PT
CO2 changes

"CO2 oscillations of 5-10 ppm during the last 2000 years are too large to be explained by external (solar-volcanic) forcing, but they can be explained by pandemics that afflicted western Eurasia and the Americas. The pandemics led to forest regrowth on abandoned farms, and they reduced carbon emissions from ongoing deforestation. The disease-driven CO2 changes were a significant factor contributing to temperature changes during the Little Ice Age (1300-1900 AD)."

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Comment #19 posted by FoM on February 07, 2007 at 18:15:36 PT
It's never too late to try. I think that if people care about our earth and the climate small steps begin to make bigger steps and we transform something negative into something positive. The earth is tough and so are the people. I am amazed when I see people living in countries where most of us couldn't adapt very well but they do fine. An old expression was it's time to tighten the belt and it's time.

[ Post Comment ]
Comment #18 posted by Hope on February 07, 2007 at 17:59:01 PT
The Little Ice Age
They say it was probably caused by the fact that the Plague in Europe left farms covered with brush that would have been removed if the farmers hadn't been sick and dieing. If that is true, then the answer to global warming could be planting trees and even brushy stuff.

This is all part of the destruction of the rain forests that we were warned about...probably.

There is too much clear cutting in forests of all types. Trees are wasted to make paper, notebook paper, newspapers, toilet paper, paper towels, napkins, paper cups, paper plates, cardboard, and cardboard packaging... when there are more quickly renewable plants to make it with.

Makes me worry about everytime a tree is wasted. What about all those wooden pallets that industry uses...then burns or discards? Trees don't have to be wasted like we tend to do now.

In my son's new house, they used recycled newspapers as insulation in the walls. No, they didn't get tons of newspapers. A company does and grinds them up with liquid and sprays them between the studs. It's supposed to better than fiberglass or foam. It is recycled newspapers which makes me glad that that much more paper wasn't just thrown in a land fill or incinerator.

I think the Earth is tough, too...and I think it goes through weird weather cycles and or no man.

But if extra brush could cause the Little Ice makes sense that planting more trees and brush with leaves would be a good idea to inhibit warming. Obviously, it's too late for the parts of the ice caps that have already melted...but it's never too late to try to make it right.

[ Post Comment ]

Comment #17 posted by FoM on February 07, 2007 at 16:03:14 PT
OverwhelmSam and Whig
When we decided to move to where we live now we thought of climate change before we made this our home. I believe much of the south and south west mostly will return to desert and everything near the water will have to move inland. Canada will be a country that has more exposed and rich land then it has now. Many people will have to re-locate in the coming decades I think. It's too late to stop it. Maybe with some sanity we can slow it down but China, America and India just aren't imterested.

[ Post Comment ]
Comment #16 posted by OverwhelmSam on February 07, 2007 at 15:55:55 PT
Not To Worry, We Can't Hurt Earth
The earth will be here long after we burn. I estimate that earth will reach flash point in about three centuries. Unless of course we are hit by an asteroid first.

[ Post Comment ]
Comment #15 posted by whig on February 07, 2007 at 15:55:46 PT
I want to be clear that I don't think we can continue to do what we have been doing and causing this warming to get worse, but we can and should make plans for what we will do when the climate changes and some places become uninhabitable -- because other places will become more habitable, but we have many barriers against migration that will need to be addressed.

Think of people being able to live in parts of Canada that are too cold now, but might become pleasant.

It's not a good thing that we have to do this, but it is necessary, and better than hoping it doesn't happen because it will.

[ Post Comment ]

Comment #14 posted by FoM on February 07, 2007 at 15:48:48 PT
I thought of Michael J. Fox too when I saw this article. I like him and he is having so much trouble with his Parkinson's Disease I hope he tries medical marijuana.

Whig, yes our climate is warming and in trouble. We knew that back in the 70s but they laughed at us and here we are now.

[ Post Comment ]

Comment #13 posted by OverwhelmSam on February 07, 2007 at 15:44:11 PT
Calling Michael J. Fox
This is a disease that Michael has lived with and he has actively supported research for a cure. I wonder if he would be interested in lobbying our dirty filthy Congress to change their cannabis laws.

[ Post Comment ]
Comment #12 posted by whig on February 07, 2007 at 15:29:06 PT
I was thinking about the consequences of global warming, which like it or not is a reality and will continue for awhile, and we are going to have some changes in the environment on account of that.

Finland is losing its winter.

Antarctica might become habitable some day.

Just planting a seed.

[ Post Comment ]

Comment #11 posted by FoM on February 07, 2007 at 15:23:55 PT
I don't mind but I didn't understand what you meant.

[ Post Comment ]
Comment #10 posted by whig on February 07, 2007 at 15:06:53 PT
I'm sorry for doing that, I got excited.

I haven't been following comments closely, but I still check in. Hope you don't mind my intrusion too much.

[ Post Comment ]

Comment #9 posted by FoM on February 07, 2007 at 12:08:32 PT
Forbes Article Also in the Washington Post

[ Post Comment ]
Comment #8 posted by FoM on February 07, 2007 at 11:55:51 PT
Related Article from Forbes
Marijuana-Like Brain Chemicals Ease Parkinson's Symptoms in Mice


Wednesday, Feb. 7 (HealthDay News) -- Manipulation of brain molecules similar to those found in marijuana provided dramatic relief of Parkinson's-like symptoms in mice, researchers report.

"This might be a target for treatment that could cure the motor deficits seen in Parkinson's disease," said lead researcher Anatol Kreitzer, whose team published the findings in the Feb. 8 issue of Nature.

Kreitzer emphasized two points, however -- that a lot of work must be done before human trials can begin, and that the study results do not support smoking marijuana as a way to help Parkinson's patients.

The study did involve cannabinoids, molecules that are similar to those found in marijuana. But these cannabinoids occur naturally in the brain, and the study hinged on targeting specific cannabinoids.

"When you smoke a joint, you activate cannabinoid receptors all over the brain," explained Kreitzer, who now is a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University and will soon move to a research position at the University of California, San Francisco. "That is indiscriminate," Kreitzer said. "In general, you need more specific signaling. Our approach involved only regions of the brain or cells that release dopamine."

Dopamine is crucial, because a lack of that chemical produces the movement problems seen in Parkinson's disease. Kreitzer and Dr. Robert Malenka, professor in psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford, focused on dopamine in the striatum, a region of the brain implicated in Parkinson's disease and a number of other disorders.

"This particular part of the brain doesn't have any obvious anatomy," Kreitzer said. "If you just look at the cells, they all look alike. But it turns out that there are two specific circuits there involved in the control of movement -- a direct pathway that activates motion and an indirect pathway that inhibits motion."

The researchers worked with mice engineered to have a fluorescent protein in one of those circuits. They found that dopamine acts differently in the two circuits. When dopamine is depleted in the pathway that inhibits movement, it becomes overly active.

"The mice that didn't have dopamine in that circuit are completely frozen," Kreitzer said. "They don't walk around at all. To restore plasticity, we tried to activate the dopamine signal."

The mice were given both dopamine and a drug being developed for treatment of anxiety, which acts by slowing the breakdown of brain cannabinoids. "The animals started walking around immediately," Kreitzer said. "There was a five- or sixfold increase in motor activity. If you inhibit the breakdown of these endocannabinoids, you enhance activity even in mice that lack dopamine."

Research now will go in a number of directions, Kreitzer said. "We'd like to understand some other functions of these compounds," he said. Several stages of animal work must be done before human trials can be considered, Kreitzer added.

"A potential role for endocannabinoids for Parkinson disease represents an exciting new area for Parkinson research," said Dr. Michael S. Okun, medical director of the National Parkinson Foundation, which helped fund the research.

Although more study is needed, the work "sheds some light on potentially relevant targets and strategies for treatment of this neurodegenerative disease," said Okun, who is also co-director of the Movement Disorders Center at the University of Florida, Gainesville.

More information:

There's more on Parkinson's disease at the National Parkinson Foundation.

Copyright: 2007 LLC

[ Post Comment ]

Comment #7 posted by whig on February 07, 2007 at 11:44:56 PT
passing thru
That was a self-fulfilling prophecy, and I wanted to show how I did that so that you know how if you understand what I did.

The world is ours. I love you all.

[ Post Comment ]

Comment #6 posted by FoM on February 07, 2007 at 11:41:35 PT
That is so good to hear. Good luck to Texas!

Whig it's nice to see you.

[ Post Comment ]

Comment #5 posted by whig on February 07, 2007 at 11:34:00 PT
The Plan
If you imagine it hard enough, it will happen, because people go there, and someone will make it happen.

[ Post Comment ]
Comment #4 posted by Taylor121 on February 07, 2007 at 11:32:23 PT
Bill HB758 in Texas to reduce marijuana penalties!
NORML is pleased to announce that House Bill 758, an act to reclassify possession of less than one ounce of marijuana from a Class B misdemeanor to a Class C misdemeanor, has been introduced in state legislature. If enacted, this measure would remove the threat of incarceration for minor marijuana offenders. Such a change would ensure that these individuals will no longer be subject to criminal arrest, prosecution and -- most importantly, incarceration -- or the emotional, social, and financial hardships that follow. (Read the full text of the bill here:\?LegSess=80R&Bill=HB758.) According to state arrest data, more than 95 percent of all Texans arrested on marijuana violations are charged with possession only. Moreover, among those arrested for pot possession, some 75 percent are under 30 years old. Passage of HB 758 will assure that these tens of thousands of otherwise law-abiding citizens, mainly young people, will not have to suffer the lifelong indignity and lack of opportunity that accompanies a criminal record. Please contact your state Representative now and urge him or her to support HB 758, and tell them that law enforcement should stop wasting taxpayers’ dollars arresting and jailing minor marijuana offenders.

[ Post Comment ]

Comment #3 posted by whig on February 07, 2007 at 11:30:07 PT
Antarctica terraformed with sativa.

Have a good one and Mahalo.

[ Post Comment ]

Comment #2 posted by observer on February 07, 2007 at 11:18:33 PT
another anti-pot gem
"But Kreitzer and Malenka cautioned that their findings don't mean smoking marijuana could be therapeutic for Parkinson's disease."

Someone, please start collecting these little gems.

They follow this pattern. Some wonderful medical properties of pot are (grudgingly) admitted by credible-seeming doctors (i.e., paid establishment toadies), but (say these wizened men of science), "this doesn't mean you should actually take cannabis."

In other words, "Yeah, we found out yet another medical property of marijuana, but we fully endorse locking your law-breaking fanny up with some "Booty Bandits" (see: ) and slaving you (see: UNICOR, etc.). All along we, police, bureaucrats, and big pharma companies, profit from your jailing. Sure, we may (with great fanfare) diddle with patenting expensive synthetic snake-oil chemical analogues of pot's natural ingredients, to sell back to you when you get sick (often) at great profits to us. But we know you'll lap it up, because we can buy media like you breathe air. Enjoy, suckers!"

I think I get the message.

[ Post Comment ]
Comment #1 posted by FoM on February 07, 2007 at 10:39:34 PT
Pot May Ease Parkinson's Symptoms-Czech Study

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