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Cannabis -vs- ALS

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2931550An important consideration for treatment is that ALS is a chronic disease therefore long-term toxicity of treatment drugs becomes an important issue. Δ9-THC is well tolerated and already in clinical usage for nausea associated with cancer chemotherapy and appetite stimulation with the AIDS wasting syndrome. In a pilot study of the safety and tolerability of Δ9-THC in ALS patients, symptomatic benefits were seen in insomnia, appetite and spasticity (Gelinas et al., 2002). Other endocannabinoid compounds may have a similar tolerability profile without the psychotropic side effects found with Δ9-THC. If they are effective in a pre-clinical model of ALS, they could be evaluated for its effectiveness in the human disease. Cannabinoids may prove to be novel therapeutic targets for the treatment of ALS.


http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20439484Significant advances have increased our understanding of the molecular mechanisms of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), yet this has not translated into any greatly effective therapies. It appears that a number of abnormal physiological processes occur simultaneously in this devastating disease. Ideally, a multidrug regimen, including glutamate antagonists, antioxidants, a centrally acting anti-inflammatory agent, microglial cell modulators (including tumor necrosis factor alpha [TNF-alpha] inhibitors), an antiapoptotic agent, 1 or more neurotrophic growth factors, and a mitochondrial function-enhancing agent would be required to comprehensively address the known pathophysiology of ALS. Remarkably, cannabis appears to have activity in all of those areas. Preclinical data indicate that cannabis has powerful antioxidative, anti-inflammatory, and neuroprotective effects. In the G93A-SOD1 ALS mouse, this has translated to prolonged neuronal cell survival, delayed onset, and slower progression of the disease. Cannabis also has properties applicable to symptom management of ALS, including analgesia, muscle relaxation, bronchodilation, saliva reduction, appetite stimulation, and sleep induction. With respect to the treatment of ALS, from both a disease modifying and symptom management viewpoint, clinical trials with cannabis are the next logical step. Based on the currently available scientific data, it is reasonable to think that cannabis might significantly slow the progression of ALS, potentially extending life expectancy and substantially reducing the overall burden of the disease.


http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15204022Effective treatment for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) remains elusive. Two of the primary hypotheses underlying motor neuron vulnerability are susceptibility to excitotoxicity and oxidative damage. There is rapidly emerging evidence that the cannabinoid receptor system has the potential to reduce both excitotoxic and oxidative cell damage. Here we report that treatment with Delta(9)-tetrahydrocannabinol (Delta(9)-THC) was effective if administered either before or after onset of signs in the ALS mouse model (hSOD(G93A) transgenic mice). Administration at the onset of tremors delayed motor impairment and prolonged survival in Delta(9)-THC treated mice when compared to vehicle controls. In addition, we present an improved method for the analysis of disease progression in the ALS mouse model. This logistic model provides an estimate of the age at which muscle endurance has declined by 50% with much greater accuracy than could be attained for any other measure of decline. In vitro, Delta(9)-THC was extremely effective at reducing oxidative damage in spinal cord cultures. Additionally, Delta(9)-THC is anti-excitotoxic in vitro. These cellular mechanisms may underlie the presumed neuroprotective effect in ALS. As Delta(9)-THC is well tolerated, it and other cannabinoids may prove to be novel therapeutic targets for the treatment of ALS.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11467101Marijuana has been proposed as treatment for a widening spectrum of medical conditions. Marijuana is a substance with many properties that may be applicable to the management of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). These include analgesia, muscle relaxation, bronchodilation, saliva reduction, appetite stimulation, and sleep induction. In addition, marijuana has now been shown to have strong antioxidative and neuroprotective effects, which may prolong neuronal cell survival. In areas where it is legal to do so, marijuana should be considered in the pharmacological management of ALS. Further investigation into the usefulness of marijuana in this setting is warranted. 

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18781981Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) is a fatal neurodegenerative condition characterised by the selective loss of motor neurons from the spinal cord, brainstem and motor cortex. Although the pathogenic mechanisms that underlie ALS are not yet fully understood, there is significant evidence that several neurotoxic mechanisms including excitotoxicity, inflammation and oxidative stress, all contribute to disease pathogenesis. Furthermore, recent results have established that although primarily a motor neuron specific disorder, ALS is not cell-autonomous and non-neuronal cells including astroglia and microglia play a critical role in mechanism of disease. Currently the only licensed therapy available for the treatment of ALS is the anti-glutamatergic agent Riluzole, which has limited therapeutic effects. However, there is increasing evidence that cannabinoids and manipulation of the endocannabinoid system may have therapeutic value in ALS, in addition to other neurodegenerative conditions. Cannabinoids exert anti-glutamatergic and anti-inflammatory actions through activation of the CB(1) and CB(2) receptors, respectively. Activation of CB(1) receptors may therefore inhibit glutamate release from presynaptic nerve terminals and reduce the postsynaptic calcium influx in response to glutamate receptor stimulation. Meanwhile, CB(2) receptors may influence inflammation, whereby receptor activation reduces microglial activation, resulting in a decrease in microglial secretion of neurotoxic mediators. Finally, cannabinoid agents may also exert anti-oxidant actions by a receptor-independent mechanism. Therefore the ability of cannabinoids to target multiple neurotoxic pathways in different cell populations may increase their therapeutic potential in the treatment of ALS. Recent studies investigating this potential in models of ALS, in particular those that focus on strategies that activate CB(2) receptors, are discussed in this review.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15204022Effective treatment for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) remains elusive. Two of the primary hypotheses underlying motor neuron vulnerability are susceptibility to excitotoxicity and oxidative damage. There is rapidly emerging evidence that the cannabinoid receptor system has the potential to reduce both excitotoxic and oxidative cell damage. Here we report that treatment with Delta(9)-tetrahydrocannabinol (Delta(9)-THC) was effective if administered either before or after onset of signs in the ALS mouse model (hSOD(G93A) transgenic mice). Administration at the onset of tremors delayed motor impairment and prolonged survival in Delta(9)-THC treated mice when compared to vehicle controls. In addition, we present an improved method for the analysis of disease progression in the ALS mouse model. This logistic model provides an estimate of the age at which muscle endurance has declined by 50% with much greater accuracy than could be attained for any other measure of decline. In vitro, Delta(9)-THC was extremely effective at reducing oxidative damage in spinal cord cultures. Additionally, Delta(9)-THC is anti-excitotoxic in vitro. These cellular mechanisms may underlie the presumed neuroprotective effect in ALS. As Delta(9)-THC is well tolerated, it and other cannabinoids may prove to be novel therapeutic targets for the treatment of ALS.


http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16183560Therapeutic options for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), the most common adult-onset motor neuron disorder, remain limited. Emerging evidence from clinical studies and transgenic mouse models of ALS suggests that cannabinoids, the bioactive ingredients of marijuana (Cannabis sativa) might have some therapeutic benefit in this disease. However, Delta(9)-tetrahydrocannabinol (Delta(9)-THC), the predominant cannabinoid in marijuana, induces mind-altering effects and is partially addictive, compromising its clinical usefulness. We therefore tested whether cannabinol (CBN), a non-psychotropic cannabinoid, influences disease progression and survival in the SOD1 (G93A) mouse model of ALS. CBN was delivered via subcutaneously implanted osmotic mini-pumps (5 mg/kg/day) over a period of up to 12 weeks. We found that this treatment significantly delays disease onset by more than two weeks while survival was not affected. Further research is necessary to determine whether non-psychotropic cannabinoids might be useful in ameliorating symptoms in ALS.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17241118Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a neurodegenerative disease characterized by progressive motor neuron loss, paralysis and death within 2-5 years of diagnosis. Currently, no effective pharmacological agents exist for the treatment of this devastating disease. Neuroinflammation may accelerate the progression of ALS. Cannabinoids produce anti-inflammatory actions via cannabinoid receptor 1 (CB1) and cannabinoid receptor 2 (CB2), and delay the progression of neuroinflammatory diseases. Additionally, CB2 receptors, which normally exist primarily in the periphery, are dramatically up-regulated in inflamed neural tissues associated with CNS disorders. In G93A-SOD1 mutant mice, the most well-characterized animal model of ALS, endogenous cannabinoids are elevated in spinal cords of symptomatic mice. Furthermore, treatment with non-selective cannabinoid partial agonists prior to, or upon, symptom appearance minimally delays disease onset and prolongs survival through undefined mechanisms. We demonstrate that mRNA, receptor binding and function of CB2, but not CB1, receptors are dramatically and selectively up-regulated in spinal cords of G93A-SOD1 mice in a temporal pattern paralleling disease progression. More importantly, daily injections of the selective CB2 agonist AM-1241, initiated at symptom onset, increase the survival interval after disease onset by 56%. Therefore, CB2 agonists may slow motor neuron degeneration and preserve motor function, and represent a novel therapeutic modality for treatment of ALS.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20439484Significant advances have increased our understanding of the molecular mechanisms of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), yet this has not translated into any greatly effective therapies. It appears that a number of abnormal physiological processes occur simultaneously in this devastating disease. Ideally, a multidrug regimen, including glutamate antagonists, antioxidants, a centrally acting anti-inflammatory agent, microglial cell modulators (including tumor necrosis factor alpha [TNF-alpha] inhibitors), an antiapoptotic agent, 1 or more neurotrophic growth factors, and a mitochondrial function-enhancing agent would be required to comprehensively address the known pathophysiology of ALS. Remarkably, cannabis appears to have activity in all of those areas. Preclinical data indicate that cannabis has powerful antioxidative, anti-inflammatory, and neuroprotective effects. In the G93A-SOD1 ALS mouse, this has translated to prolonged neuronal cell survival, delayed onset, and slower progression of the disease. Cannabis also has properties applicable to symptom management of ALS, including analgesia, muscle relaxation, bronchodilation, saliva reduction, appetite stimulation, and sleep induction. With respect to the treatment of ALS, from both a disease modifying and symptom management viewpoint, clinical trials with cannabis are the next logical step. Based on the currently available scientific data, it is reasonable to think that cannabis might significantly slow the progression of ALS, potentially extending life expectancy and substantially reducing the overall burden of the disease.


http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18220777Neuroprotective properties of cannabinoids have been extensively studied in the last years in different neurodegenerative pathologies. This potential is based on the antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-excitotoxic properties exhibited by these compounds that allow them to afford neuroprotection in different neurodegenerative disorders like Parkinson's disease (PD), Huntington's disease (HD), multiple sclerosis (MS) and others. PD and HD are chronic pathologies that are caused by the degeneration of specific structures within the basal ganglia. In both disorders, the key mechanisms involved in the neuroprotection provided by cannabinoids include cannabinoid receptor-independent effects aimed at reducing the oxidative injury, and also cannabinoid 2 receptors (CB2)-mediated effects exerted by regulating the influence of reactive microglia on neuronal homeostasis. MS is an inflammatory demyelinating disorder primarily affecting spinal neurons and secondarily producing a malfunctioning and/or degeneration of other neuronal subpopulations located in supraspinal brain structures. There is evidence that both cannabinoid 1 receptors (CB1) and CB2 may afford a protective effect in this disease due to their immunomodulatory, anti-inflammatory and anti-excitotoxic properties. Lastly, neuroprotective effects of cannabinoids exerted by the activation of CB1 but also CB2 receptors have been also identified in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), another degenerative disease characterized by the selective death of spinal motoneurons. In the present review, we will collect the latest advances in the knowledge of the cellular and molecular mechanisms through which cannabinoids might arrest/delay the degeneration of specific neuronal subpopulations in these motor-related disorders. This should serve to encourage that the present promising evidence obtained mainly at the preclinical level might progress to a real exploitation of neuroprotective benefits of potential cannabinoid-based medicines.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19839933Although significant advances have taken place in recent years on our understanding of the molecular mechanisms of different neurodegenerative diseases, its translation into effective therapeutic treatments has not been as successful as could be expected. There is still a dramatic lack of curative treatments for the most frequent disorders and only symptomatic relief for many others. Under this perspective, the search for novel therapeutic approaches is demanding and significant attention and efforts have been directed to studying additional neurotransmission systems including the endocannabinoid system (ECS). The neuroprotective properties of exogenous as well as endogenous cannabinoids have been known for years and the underlying molecular mechanisms have been recently unveiled. As discussed later, antioxidative, antiglutamatergic and antiinflammatory effects are now recognized as derived from cannabinoid action and are known to be of common interest for many neurodegenerative processes. Thus, these characteristics make cannabinoids attractive candidates for the development of novel therapeutic strategies [1]. The present review will focus on the existing data regarding the possible usefulness of cannabinoid agents for the treatment of relevant neurological pathologies for our society such as Alzheimer's disease, multiple sclerosis, Huntington's disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.