MOST Scots do not need an excuse to enjoy a good curry. But new research may offer another reason to indulge in their favourite spicy food.
A study has discovered that a substance found in turmeric root could hold a key to tackling Alzheimer's disease. Scientists in the United States discovered the extract may be capable of boosting the immune system to help combat the plaques which form in the brain, leading to the death of brain cells and dementia.
The latest study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, focused on a substance called bisdemethoxycurcumin, which is found in the turmeric root.
The researchers, from the University of California, Los Angeles, used blood samples from Alzheimer's patients.
When they added the curry substance, it boosted immune cells called macrophages. These helped clear compounds known as amyloid beta, which create the plaques which build up in the brains of Alzheimer's sufferers.
The researchers, led by Dr Milan Fiala, also identified the genes linked to this effect.
"The study provides more insight into the role of the immune system in Alzheimer's disease and points to a new treatment approach," the report said.
The findings could lead to blood tests to identify which patients may respond to the substance, allowing treatment to be individualised for them.
And new drugs could be developed using information on how the turmeric substance affects the immune system.
Previous research has suggested that rates of Alzheimer's are much lower among the elderly in India than they are in western countries.