Turmeric Inhibits Agents
                        Responsible for Mad Cow

                        7th Dec 2003

                        A new study shows that the curcumin, the
                        agent that gives turmeric its yellow color,
                        can inhibit the accumulation of prions in
                        vitro. Prions are the agents responsible for
                        bovine spongiform encephalopathy, the
                        scientific term for mad cow disease.

                        Researchers from the Laboratory of
                        Persistent Viral Diseases at the National
                        Institutes of Health Rocky Mountain
                        Laboratories set out to determine the effect
                        of curcumin on cells infected with scrapie,
                        the sheep version of mad cow disease.
                        Scrapie, mad cow disease and
                        Creutzfeld-Jakob disease in humans are all
                        species-specific versions of the same
                        disease, known as transmissible spongiform
                        encephalopathies (TSE).

                        In the current study, published in the May
                        2003 issue of the Journal of Virology,
                        Curcumin potently inhibited the
                        accumulation of a type of prion called
                        protease-resistant prion protein. Prions
                        must convert from their original state to this
                        protease-resistant state in order to cause
                        mad cow disease or new variant
                        Creutzfeld-Jakob disease, as it's called in
                        humans. In attempting to develop agents
                        to treat new variant Creutzfeld-Jakob
                        disease, researchers are searching for
                        agents that prevent this accumulation of
                        protease-resistant prions.

                        The study authors pointed out that in vivo
                        studies in hamsters showed that dietary
                        administration of curcumin had no
                        significant effect on the onset of scrapie.
                        However, other studies have shown that
                        curcumin can penetrate the brain, which
                        gives curcumin advantages over prion
                        inhibitors previously investigated as
                        potential therapeutic anti-TSE compounds.


                        Caughey B, Raymond LD, Raymond GJ,
                        Maxson L, Silveira J, Baron GS.

                        Inhibition of protease-resistant prion protein
                        accumulation in vitro by curcumin. J Virol.
                        2003 May;77(9):5499-502

                        The information in this article is not
                        intended to provide personal medical
                        advice, which should be obtained from a
                        medical professional, and has not been
                        approved by the U.S. FDA.

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