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Post: Protecting Brain Cells with Cannabinol

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Protecting Brain Cells with Cannabinol

Salk Institute One in every 10 individuals above the age of 65 develops an age-related neurological disorder like Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s, yet treatment options remain sparse for this population. Scientists have begun exploring whether cannabinoids—compounds derived from the cannabis plant, like well-known THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol)—may offer a solution. A third, lesser-known cannabinoid called CBN (cannabinol) has recently piqued the interest of researchers, who have begun exploring the clinical potential of the milder, less psychoactive substance.

In a new study, scientists at the Salk Institute help explain how CBN protects the brain against aging and neurodegeneration, then use their findings to develop potential therapeutics. The researchers created four CBN-inspired compounds that were more neuroprotective than the standard CBN molecule—one of which was highly effective in treating traumatic brain injury in a Drosophila fruit fly model.

The findings, recently published in Redox Biology , suggest promise for CBN in treating neurological disorders like traumatic brain injury, Alzheimer’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease, and also highlight how further studies of CBN’s effects on the brain could inspire the development of new therapies for clinical use.

“Not only does CBN have neuroprotective properties, but its derivatives have the potential to become novel therapeutics for various neurological disorders,” says Research Professor Pamela Maher, senior author of the study. “We were able to pinpoint the active groups in CBN that are doing that neuroprotection, then improve them to create derivative compounds that have greater neuroprotective ability and drug-like efficacy.”

Many neurological disorders involve the death of brain cells […]

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