Study shows properties of marijuana may slow vision loss
A study conducted by the University of Alicante in Spain found that compounds in marijuana may help to slow down vision loss caused by retinitis pigmentosa, or RP.
The study by Spanish researchers used a synthetic and highly concentrated form of THC, the active ingredient in cannabis that produces the “high,” which they referred to as HU210. According to Nicolas Cuenca, PhD, the study’s lead investigator, HU210 has been proven to protect neural cells for a variety of brain and neurological conditions.
Rats that were injected with HU210 performed significantly better on tasks which required visual coordination. The rats who received the injections also had 40 percent more photoreceptors than untreated rats, as well as 70 percent greater sensitivity to light.
The new study, titled “Neuroprotective Effects of the Cannabinoid Agonist HU210 on Retinal Degeneration” was published in the journal Experimental Eye Research last February.
Dr. Cuenca stressed though that more research is still needed and team was unable to pinpoint how the THC actually helps with retinal dystrophy. He also notes, “systemic administration of HU210 would not be feasible because of its strong mood-altering effects.” The compound would likely need to be broken down and delivered more directly in order for it to be effect in every day usage.
The US National Library of Medicine estimates that one in 4,000 Americans has RP. The disease can run in families due to a number of genetic defects, making family history the main risk factor.
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