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Aug. 23, 2018

New study explores the role cannabis plays in treating Parkinson's, Alzheimer's

Michigan State University researcher Norbert Kaminski has begun a yearlong, preclinical study exploring cannabis compounds and their ability to slow the progress of Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and other diseases of the brain.

Kaminski, who was recently named interim director of the MSU Center for Research on Ingredient Safety, will study the safety and effectiveness of these compounds by testing human white blood cells and evaluating the effects the compounds have on the immune system.

“These compounds have the potential to decrease the inflammatory response that occurs in brain tissue that’s associated with diseases like Parkinson’s,” said Kaminski, who is the director of the MSU Institute for Integrative Toxicology and a professor in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology. “By inhibiting the inflammatory process and slowing the migration of white blood cells across the blood-brain barrier, we hope to slow the neurodegenerative processes of these diseases.”

Kaminski began the study earlier this summer, in cooperation with Las Vegas-based biotechnology company GB Sciences Inc., which owns the compounds being tested. Based on study results, his work may help move the compounds toward use in therapeutic treatments.

“GB Sciences is honored to be working with Dr. Kaminski on this project,” said Andrea Small-Howard, chief sciences officer for GB Sciences. “He has pioneered studies on the effects of cannabis on the immune system and his work has centered around the immune modulating effects of cannabis consumption on HIV/AIDS patients. The same neuroinflammation effects he’s found in HIV/AIDS patients may be a major contributing factor in a number of other related neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.”

In an earlier MSU study, Kaminski demonstrated a relationship between cannabis use and improved brain health in HIV/AIDS patients who used cannabis versus those who did not.

With more than 25 years of experience working with cannabis, Kaminski and his lab were the first to identify the cellular proteins expressed on white blood cells that the cannabinoid compounds bind to called cannabinoid receptors. Since then, Kaminski has continued to study how they modulate the immune system.

“We’re very fortunate to be working with Dr. Kaminski on this important research and development project on our lead therapeutic compounds,” said John Poss, CEO and chairman of GB Sciences. “Our company is committed to working with top universities to achieve our goal of helping to unlock the therapeutic potential of cannabis.”

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