Drug from Indian spice builds brain cells after stroke

Thursday, February 10, 2011

LONDON - A new molecule from curcumin, a chemical component of the golden-hued Indian spice turmeric, helps build brain cells after stroke, research has found.

Those who cook Indian dishes know turmeric well for its zesty flavour, used in curries and for the rich colour it imparts to food. Turmeric also has a long history of use in Ayurvedic medicine.

Paul A. Lapchak, director of Translational Research at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, who conducted the research, presented these findings at the American Heart Association’s International Stroke Conference in Los Angeles.

Only one drug is now approved for ischemic stroke, which occurs when a clot blocks blood flow to the brain, according to a Cedars-Sinai statement.

Commonly called a “clot-busting drug,” tissue plasminogen activator (TPA) is injected intravenously to dissolve clots and reinstate blood flow.

If blood and oxygen are restored in time, consequences of the stroke, such as speech, memory, movement and other impairments, may be reduced.

The new curcumin-hybrid compound-CNB-001 does not attack clots but instead repairs stroke damage at the molecular level that feeds and supports the all-important brain cells — neurons.

“CNB-001 has many of the same benefits of curcumin but appears to be a better choice of compound for acute stroke because it crosses the blood-brain barrier, is quickly distributed in the brain…,” Lapchak said.

When brain tissue is deprived of blood and oxygen, the environment quickly becomes toxic, killing brain cells and destroying their support structures.

Lapchak added that he and his colleagues expect the new drug to move to human clinical trials soon.

Filed under: Medicine, World

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