India’s very own haldi is now giving scientists hope of an Alzheimer’s cure. Researchers at the University of Southampton are investigating whether curcumin found in turmeric — that gives curries the yellow colour — could benefit people with Alzheimer’s.
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Researchers believe curcumin could greatly minimise the effects of Alzheimer’s and will examine whether curcumin-containing drugs could counteract some of the brain changes that are characteristic of the disease.
Amrit Mudher, lead researcher from the University of Southampton, said, “Indian communities that regularly eat curcumin have a surprisingly low incidence of Alzheimer’s, but we do not know why. Part of our research will investigate how curcumin may help protect the brain and prevent the disease.”
In healthy people, proteins in the brain’s nerve cells help them to communicate with each other. In Alzheimer’s sufferers, these tau proteins become abnormal and disrupt the cell’s ability to communicate with each other and the nerve cells eventually die.
The team at Southampton will use fruit flies, genetically modified to have nerve cells that contain malfunctioning tau proteins similar to those found in people with Alzheimer’s.
Susanne Sorensen, head of research at the British Alzheimer’s Society, said, “Unless we act now, one million people will develop dementia in the next 10 years. A cheap, accessible and safe treatment could transform the quality of life of thousands of people with the disease.” Curcumin is marketed widely in the western world as a dietary supplement for the treatment and prevention of both rheumatoid arthritis and osteoporosis. Scientists have also recently found that curcumin helps stop the spread of breast cancer into the lungs. Turmeric is also prescribed for liver and urinary diseases.
According to Indian Council of Medical Research scientists, a cure for Alzheimer’s will greatly benefit India. Alzheimer’s, which is a progressive brain disorder that gradually destroys a person’s memory and ability to reason and make judgments, presently affects 5% of the population above 60 in India.
Globally, Alzheimer’s affects one in 10 people over the age of 65. This study could be of prime importance for India where by 2050, the average Indian might live from the current 64.7 years to 75.6 years. According to the recent ‘World Population Prospects’ of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, by 2050, the number of Indians above 80 will increase more than six times from the current number of 78 lakh to nearly 5.14 crore. At present, 20% of this category in India suffer from Alzheimer’s.
Sources: The Times Of India