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
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
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.
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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