back to article Get an EYEFUL OF CURRY for the sake of your brain

Researchers at Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) have announced that turmeric – the root that imparts a distinctive yellow colour and subtle flavour to curry – has clinical applications in testing for Alzheimer's disease. The boffins have been working on retinal imaging as a test …

  1. Denarius

    obviously time to

    sell off CSIRO after defunding it. Proper research done in Oz might suggest Australians do not have attitudes appropriate for colonials, supinely waiting for crumbs from our masters.

  2. jake Silver badge

    Turmeric's not a root ...

    ... it's a rhizome. Like ginger & galangal.

    1. Ralph B

      Re: Turmeric's not a root ...

      Yeah, and "rhizome" is derived from the Greek "rhiza" which is a "root."

      So, the root which is not a root is also a root.

      1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

        Re: Turmeric's not a root ...

        The root of all eyeful?

        Mine has the book of bad puns in the pocket...

        1. Ralph B

          Re: Turmeric's not a root ...

          Learnings: Reg commentards approximately equally appreciate punning to pedantry. Who knew?

          1. FormerKowloonTonger

            Re: Turmeric's not a root ...


            "Reg commentards approximately equally appreciate punning to pedantry. Who knew?"

   also leads to a lot of smartassininedness.

      2. cortland

        Re: Turmeric's not a root ...

        I'll not curry favor, but it's good to have gotten to the root of all that. Pukka Sahib!

  3. Chris G Silver badge

    All in favour say Eye

    If the US and its NATO allies spent 1% of what they spend invading and interfering with other countries on research into preventing or curing Alzheimers and other diseases we would be well on the way to improving the lot of society as a whole.

    I am not too sure about wanting to know well in advance that all my marbles are slipping out of the bag one by one, better to be told when I no longer care.

    1. frank ly

      Re: All in favour say Eye

      Apparently, there are drugs which improve blood circulation in the brain that can delay the onset of the major symptoms of senile dementia. (Alzheimers is a name for one of several possible causes of dementia.) However, these drugs have to be started at an early stage and they give a delay of maybe a few years before you're where you would have been anyway if you didn't take them. It would be nice, perhaps, to have the option. I would agree with anyone who says that taking these drugs for many years and suffering possible side effects may not be worth an extra three years (or whatever) of 'normality'.

      1. FuzzyTheBear

        Re: All in favour say Eye

        Intuitively the family knows before the tests.Those of us who live or have lived with a relative that has Alzhemers know this . There's little things , little clues. Things forgotten , or a memory that changed.

        By the time the Doc posed a diagnosis , we all know what's going to happen. The drugs that were tried gave results for a bit less than a year , there were no noticeable side effects , but in the end , it does not change a thing , progressively the illness keeps getting worse and worse , family takes a serious hit and eventually have to come to terms with the death of their relatives. We all must go. I hope for a cure for all those who suffer the same hell . I hope this test works out fine and helps keep this infernal illness in check. The cure might never come , but there's a little light for the families and friends of those who suffer this atrocious disease. Maybe one day. But for a many , for millions , this is going to come too late. Please backup Alzheimer's research.

    2. Aqua Marina

      Re: All in favour say Eye

      A guy goes to the doctor. The doctor pokes and prods him, and then leaves the room. When he comes back, his face is grave. "Well?", the guy inquires.

      The doctor responds, "Well, I have bad news and worse news."

      The guy says, "Let's hear the worse news first."

      The doctor says, "I'm sorry to say that you have cancer."

      The guy shakes his head, and says, "Wow...what's the bad news?"

      The doctor says, "The bad news is that you have Alzheimer's disease."

      The guy says, "Ahh...well, at least I don't have cancer."

  4. moiety

    TLDR: So...have a curry; wait a bit (time unspecified); and either look into a device as yet unmarketed or everyone's phones could be made to do the testing. And you know how much risk you are at of whatever the article was about in the first place.


    P.S. Circumin has nothing to do with cumin, apparently. I looked it up.

    Sort your fucking nomenclature out boffins. Last thing people with Alzeimers need is to have extra confusion about which bloody curry to order.

    1. tojb

      No, it does. The wikipedia post is accurate but incomplete: the substance shows up in turmeric AND cumin.

      In about 2008, when the binding activity of curcumin to ABeta was discovered, researchers rushed off to stuff mice with as many different biphenolic spices as they could, and even observed a therapeutic effect.

      Unfortunately, when the doses are scaled up to humans you would have to inject a tablespoon of curry powder directly into your brain every day to actually remediate AD by this approach, but I'm glad someone has found a use for the effect as a test.

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Well, you could rinse your eyeball with balti sauce.

        On another note, we're convinced that the amyloid beta is simply a marker left by degenerating cell bodies and the real culprit is what's known as a histone protein, H1. The simple explanation: DNA wraps around a histone core like cotton round a cotton reel and is secured by a linker histone, H1. All perfectly normal. Histone H1 is known to have antimicrobial effects and is released in response to infection. Mitochondria are extremely similar to bacteria - it's thought that they are, in fact, ancient symbiotic bacteria now essential to most if not all complex cellular life. H1 in the intracellular space can, by an as yet unknown mechanism, end up getting into the cytoplasm and disrupting and killing mitochondria. Neurones are especially susceptible to mitochondrial dysfunction - the neurones undergo apoptosis (programmed cell death) and burst, spreading more H1 as well as other proteins which cause the amyloid beta plaques. Glial cells are known to be stimulated by H1, so they reproduce and fill in the gap, soaking up the debris from the burst neurone, much as they do when fulfilling their immune response role. Nano-particles of nickel and aluminium (and other magnetic metals) of just the right size act as replacement histone cores and can bend and wrap DNA, but they also cause deformation and kinking and prevent H1 from linking properly, leaving free H1. So cell death leads to a cascade failure of neurones. Not a pretty site, and utterly devastating. Any neuronal death can start the cascade failure. It cascades until the glial cells manage to cut off the damage. So you'd ask if any head trauma or alcoholism is associated with increased incidence of Alzheimer's in later life? Well, it does.

        Anyway, it's all still work in progress, I've only highlighted stuff which is freely published. There is a substance we're working on purifying which can block the uptake of H1, but for the sake of the £100K we need to pay the chemists to further purify the mixture of substances formed by the shotgun approach to making a designer molecule... the university wouldn't stump up the cash, everyone else is fixated on amyloid, there's no wriggle room in any budgets... it's only a generous private donation from a wealthy foreigner that's going to allow us another round of purification and testing. And then there's the unknown uptake mechanism - a paper on that will be out within two years.

        Anyway. Where were we? Ah yes - curry.

        1. moiety

          @tojb Ah, thank you. It was the "Not to be confused with curcumin." disclaimer at the top of the cumin page that threw me off, together with the fact that curcumin isn't mentioned anywhere in the rest of the page; whereas the turmeric page leads off with curcumin. The overall impression is that there's no curcimin in cumin and whoever named it was just trying to confuse people.

          @TRT Have you thought of Kickstarter? You don't necessarily need one wealthy foreigner when a bunch of them chipping $5 each in will have the same effect.

      2. Flatpackhamster

        A tablespoon?

        So Dave Lister would be able to test for Alzheimers?

    2. jake Silver badge


      "Sort your fucking nomenclature out boffins."

      Learn to read, idiot. The English Language is precise, when used precisely.

      "Last thing people with Alzeimers[1] need" ... is folks like yourself getting all uppity over normal, every-day break-downs in cognitive ability. Brain-cells die. The neural-net loses contacts. It's a fact of life. We don't know all the reasons. Curry is hardly important in this discussion.

      [1] That's "alzheimers", for folks not quite as all-knowing as moiety.

      1. Gary Bickford

        Re: @moiety

        "Brain-cells die. The neural-net loses contacts. It's a fact of life."

        It's worth noting recent studies have shown that exercise, ideally an hour a day six days a week (four aerobic, two strength) not only builds and maintains physical fitness but also results in new neural connections in the brain, even into one's 70s, 80s, and 90s. So work out, get smarter! :)

      2. Montreal Sean

        Re: @moiety

        Actually @jake, that's Alzheimer's, named after the psychiatrist/neuropathologist Alois Alzheimer who first described the condition.

        When casting stones, it's best if you don't live in a glass house.

      3. Martin Budden Bronze badge

        Re: @ jake

        Curry is hardly important in this discussion.

        Did you RTFA?

  5. brooxta


    I thought plaques helped people remember stuff. Obviously not when it comes to Alzheimer's. You learn something new...

    1. tojb

      Re: memories

      Actually there is a marine snail, aplysia, which uses the controlled formation of amyloid (not full-scale plaques) as an information storage mechanism. Also Saccaromyces Cerevisiae (brewers' yeast) has been shown to store information by this mechanism, and pass it on through cell division.

  6. Anonymous Blowhard

    Did anyone mention a curry?

    I normally find it's the accompanying beverage that causes memory loss.

  7. ukgnome

    Excellent parody

    of the what happened next meme, just wish I could remember what the article is about.

  8. Zog_but_not_the_first Silver badge


    My hazy recollections of late night curries have nothing to do with the food. It must be the preceding fifteen pints then.

  9. MrDamage

    Alzheimers Test

    So, if you can remember the next day why your arse burns when you take a dump, you don't have Alzheimers?

    ...I'll get my coat.

  10. Graham Marsden

    Another pub inspired idea...?

    "So, what can we get people to ingest so we can detect this?"

    "Dunno, fancy another pint?"

    "Well, actually I could murder a curry right now..."

  11. Christopher Lane
    Thumb Up

    @moiety & @TRT Here's my fiver...

    ...just tell me where to send it...seriously.

    1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

      Re: @moiety & @TRT Here's my fiver...

      And me.

  12. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    2nd test I've seen for Alheizheimers in a week.

    There are roughly a 100 different types of dementia so I'd wonder if this only picks up Alheizheimers or others (that includes alcohol dementia BTW).

    1. moiety

      Re: 2nd test I've seen for Alheizheimers in a week.

      SImple test for alcohol dementia: "Do you post on the Register forums?" If the answer is yes, book 'em in.

  13. DougS Silver badge

    Adjust your lifestyle?

    Are there actually things that one can do differently to delay/prevent the onset if aware of Alzheimer's a decade or two before symptoms begin? Or were they speaking hypothetically about what future studies might reveal?

    I'm not sure I'd want to know until there really is something that can be done. Otherwise it is just another worry about getting older, but I guess it would eliminate concerns about outliving one's retirement nest egg (i.e., at least I know I'd plan on committing suicide when it had progressed too far)

  14. dncnvncd

    Anything that glows

    It appeared to me that this "curry" test was about finding a substance that would enhance the imagery. Retinal imaging can explorer the eyeball which has tiny blood vessels like the brain giving a high degree of correlation of restricted blood flow to the brain. This lack blood flow leads to dementia. Alzheimer used to be considered unique because of brain lesions. A lot of other forms of dementia that are treatable are mis diagnosed as Alzheimers disease. A quick, simple and inexpensive test would certainly be welcomed.

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