Spice Turmeric Could Fight Alzheimer’s (Vanderbilt University) Curcumin, a natural product found in the spice turmeric, has been used by many Asian cultures for centuries, and a new study indicates a close chemical analog of curcumin has properties that may make it useful as a treatment for the brain disease. ÛÏCurcumin has demonstrated ability to enter the brain, bind and destroy the beta-amyloid plaques present in AlzheimerÛªs with reduced toxicity,Û said Wellington Pham, Ph.D., assistant professor of Radiology and Radiological Sciences and Biomedical Engineering at Vanderbilt and senior author of the study, published recently in the Journal of AlzheimerÛªs Disease. Accumulation and aggregation of protein fragments, known as beta-amyloid, drives the irreversible loss of neurons in AlzheimerÛªs disease. Pham and colleagues at Shiga University of Medical Science in Otsu, Japan, developed a new strategy to deliver a molecule similar to curcumin more effectively to the brain. ÛÏTo work around the problems of giving the drug intravenously, the researchers decided to develop an aerosol. ÛÏIn this way the drug can be breathed in and delivered to the brain,Û he said, noting that nebulizers are out in the market already, and are relatively inexpensive.