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A standard ingredient of the common curry can help prevent Alzheimer’s disease, according to a study.
Indian-born US expert Professor Murali Doraiswamy said part of the spice turmeric – called curcumin – prevents changes in the brain linked to the disease by blocking the spread of amyloid plaques.
These are deposits of toxic protein found in the brain that have been linked to the onset of Alzheimer’s. Clinical trials are now under way in the US to explore the positive effects of curcumin on Alzheimer’s sufferers.
Prof Doraiswamy told members of the Royal College of Psychiatrists at their annual meeting in Liverpool: “You can modify a mouse so that at about 12 months its brain is riddled with plaques.
“If you feed it a curcumin-rich diet it dissolves these plaques. The same diet prevented younger mice from forming new plaques.
“The next step is to test curcumin on human amyloid plaque formation using newer brain scans, and there are plans for that.”
It is thought that curcumin reduces inflammation by inhibiting an enzyme called cox-2, which is also the target of anti-inflammatory drugs.
Copyright Press Association 2009