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Cannabis chemicals help Parkinson's

8th February 2007

Scientists in the US believe that boosting levels of chemicals similar to those of cannabis in the brain could help Parkinson's patients.

Researchers from Stanford University Medical Center in California claim in an article for Nature that raising levels of a compound that increases endocannabinoid levels can aid movement in mice infected with characteristics similar to the disease.

The compound is said to bear similar qualities to those found in cannabis but the experts warned that smoking the plant would not have the same effect on Parkinson's sufferers.

"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," said the leader of the study, Dr Robert Malenka.

The director of research and development at the Parkinson's Disease Society in the UK, Kieran Breen, told the BBC: "The study provides us with a greater insight into how the nerve cells in the area of the brain affected in Parkinson's are connected and how they communicate with one another."

It is thought that around one in 500 people in the UK suffer from the disease.