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Curry Compound May Fight Rare Neurological Illness

A chemical cousin of curcumin helped restore motor control in mice with Kennedy's disease , researchers say

FRIDAY, March 30, 2007 (HealthDay News) -- A synthetic compound that's a distant chemical relative of a component of curcumin -- a spice used to make curry -- shows promise against an inherited neurodegenerative disorder called Kennedy's disease, U.S. researchers say.

The disease, which affects only men, resembles a slowly progressive form of Lou Gehrig's disease. There is no treatment for Kennedy's disease, which is caused by a mutant gene.

The University of Rochester team found that ASC-J9, a synthetic chemical compound loosely based on a component of curcumin, dramatically slowed the progression of Kennedy's disease in mice with the mutant human gene that causes the illness.

After treatment with ASC-J9, the mice showed improved muscle strength, could walk much more normally and had near-normal levels of a molecule that keeps nerve cells healthy.

The findings were published in the March issue of the journal Nature Medicine.

While ASC-J9 shows promise, much more research needs to be done to determine if ASC-J9 can be developed into a drug to help people with Kennedy's disease.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke has more about Kennedy's disease.

SOURCE: University of Rochester Medical Center, news release, March 20, 2007
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