Health News: Curcumin for Parkinson's Disease

Curcumin, a compound found in the spice tumeric, proves effective at preventing clumping of a protein involved in Parkinsons disease, says a Michigan State University researcher.

“Our research shows that curcumin can rescue proteins from aggregation, the first steps of many debilitating diseases,“ said Lisa Lapidus, MSU associate professor of physics and astronomy. “More specifically, curcumin binds strongly to alpha-synuclein and prevents aggregation at body temperatures.”

Curcumin not only stops clumping, but it also raises the protein’s folding or reconfiguration rate. By bumping up the speed, curcumin moves the protein out of a dangerous speed zone allowing it to avoid clumping with other proteins.

Finding a compound that can fix a protein when it first begins to misfold can lead scientists to identify drugs that can treat certain diseases. Doctors won’t be prescribing curcumin pills any time soon, though, Lapidus said.

“Curcumin’s usefulness as an actual drug may be limited since it doesn’t go into the brain easily where this misfolding takes place,” she said. “But this kind of study showcases the technique of measure reconfiguration and opens the door for developing drug treatments.”