A new treatment could potentially treat Alzheimer's disease, a study has indicated.
Researchers at the Lerner Research Institute and Anaesthesiology Institute at Cleveland Clinic examined the compound MDA7.
The investigation, which was published in the journal Neurobiology of Aging, revealed that the drug induced positive responses within the immune system, which limited Alzheimer's disease's development.
In animal models, the compound was found to restore memory and cognition, as well as synaptic plasticity, which is a key neurological foundation for remembering and learning.
MDA7, or 1-[(3-benzyl-3-methyl-2,3-dihydro-1-benzofuran-6-yl)carbonyl]piperidine, is typically utilised to deal with neuropathic pain and is a novel cannabinoid type 2 receptor (CB2) agonist.
While it has anti-inflammatory properties that can affect the CB2 receptor, it does not have the negative effects that are often seen with other cannabinoid compounds, with animal tests on the substance indicating that it does not cause any difficulties in locomotion.
Neuro-inflammation is linked to Alzheimer's disease's progression and the condition slowly destroys thinking and memory skills.
"Cleveland Clinic dedicated two years of research into the examination of this compound and our findings show it could represent a novel therapeutic target in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease," Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine Anesthesiology professor Dr Mohamed Naguib said.
"Development of this compound as a potential drug for Alzheimer's would take many more years, but this is a promising finding worthy of further investigation," he added.
It is thought that the ageing population could result in as many as 106 million people worldwide suffering from this form of cognitive decline by 2050, which will put a strain on international healthcare provisions, data from the Alzheimer's Association's 2011 Alzheimer's Disease Facts and Figures report suggested.
The disease is currently fatal and irreversible, although expatriate healthcare policies may be able to fund palliative care for people with the condition and some treatments can alleviate some of its symptoms or slow down its progression.