Turmeric is one of the most common spices in Southeast Asian cuisine. It has many health benefits, and a recent study shows that a compound found in turmeric can protect and regenerate brain cells after a stroke.
The study was conducted by researchers from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. The scientists created a new molecule from curcumin – the main active ingredient in turmeric – and in lab experiments, they found that it could repair damage at a molecular level and is linked to the survival of the brain cells (neurons).
There is currently only one drug approved for use after an ischemic stroke, where a clot stops blood from flowing to the brain. Commonly called a “clot-busting” drug, tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) is injected intravenously to dissolve clots and reinstate blood flow.
The new drug, called CNB-001, does not actually dissolve the blood clot but instead repairs stroke damage at the molecular level that supports and feed the all-important brain cells.
Although curcumin itself has been studied for its potential to treat brain injury and disease, and was found to have great healing potential, including in the treatment of brain injury, but it has several drawbacks, especially as an emergency stroke treatment. It is not well absorbed in the body, fails to reach its target in high concentrations, becomes depleted quickly, and is blocked from entering the brain by a natural protective mechanism called the blood-brain barrier.
The CNB-001, however, does cross the blood brain barrier and allowing blood to get distributed quickly to the brain.
“CNB-001 has many of the same benefits of curcumin but appears to be a better choice of compound for acute stroke because it was able to cross the blood-brain barrier, allowing blood to get distributed quickly to the brain and moderates several critical mechanisms involved in neuronal survival,” said lead researcher Paul A. Lapchak, PhD.
The researchers hope that the new drug could be trialed on humans soon. This offers future stroke victims new hope for greater recovery, as it may reduce lasting damage.
The research was presented at the American Heart Association International Stroke Conference in Los Angeles on February 9.