Curry Spice May Counter Alzheimer's
Chemical in Curry Spice May Help Delete Ingredient in Alzheimer's Brain Plaque
July 16, 2007 -- A chemical in the curry spice turmeric might inspire new
Alzheimer's disease treatments, a new study shows.
In preliminary lab tests, the chemical helped rid the blood of a key
ingredient in Alzheimer's brain plaque.
One day, it might be possible to give Alzheimer's patients blood infusions
of the curry chemical to help their immune system delete that brain plaque
ingredient, note the researchers.
They included Milan Fiala, MD, who works at the medical school of the
University of California at Los Angeles and at the Greater Los Angeles Veterans
Affairs Medical Center.
Curry Chemical Studied
First, Fiala's team studied yellowish-orange oils called curcuminoids, which
are found in turmeric.
The scientists searched for the most promising curcuminoid compound and
found it to be chemical called bisdemethoxycurcumin.
Next, the researchers pitted the curry chemical against an Alzheimer's brain
plaque protein called amyloid beta.
That experiment was done in test tubes containing the curry compound,
amyloid beta, and blood from people with and without Alzheimer's disease.
The scientists already knew that Alzheimer's makes it hard for immune system
cells called macrophages to get rid of amyloid beta.
The curry spice chemical helped overcome that problem in the lab tests.
Basically, the macrophages in Alzheimer's patients' blood were better at
deleting amyloid beta when the curry chemical was present.
Will eating lots of curry or taking a pill achieve that effect?
That's not clear, but blood infusions of bisdemethoxycurcumin might achieve
the right blood level of the curry chemical, according to the study. Right now,
that's just a theory. The scientists haven't tried the curry chemical as an
Alzheimer's treatment yet.
The study appears in this week's online early edition of the journal
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.