8 August 2009

Parkison's dementia, sleep and curcumin

Dementia induced and blocked in Parkinson's fly model
Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis: 1 August 2009
Parkinson's disease is well-known for impairing movement and causing tremors, but many patients also develop other serious problems, including sleep disturbances and significant losses in cognitive function known as dementia.

Now researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have modeled Parkinson's-associated dementia for the first time. They have shown that a single night of sleep loss in genetically altered fruit flies caused long-lasting disruptions in the flies' cognitive abilities comparable to aspects of Parkinson's-associated dementia. They then blocked this effect by feeding the flies large doses of the spice curcumin.

"Clinical trials of curcumin to reduce risk of Parkinson's disease are a future possibility, but for now we are using the flies to learn how curcumin works," says author James Galvin, M.D., a Washington University neurologist at Barnes-Jewish Hospital. "This should help us find other compounds that can mimic curcumin's protective effects but are more specific."

Galvin and senior author Paul Shaw, Ph.D., assistant professor of neurobiology, publish their results in the journal Sleep on Aug. 1. … > full press release

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