The compound called ASC-J9 and curcumin - the bright yellow spice in curry powder - dramatically slowed the progression of the disease in mice that the man carried the mutant gene that causes the disease, Dr. Yang Zhiming of Zhejiang University in China said Friday the agency Xinhua.
The tests, conducted by Yang and a research team of Prof. Chawnshang Chang of the University of Rochester Medical Center, involved 60 pairs of mice, each pair consisting of a treatment and untreated mice.
"The mice that were treated with ASC-J9 are more mobile than their untreated counterparts," said Yang. "They walked better and dragging their legs less often, the muscles seems to work better and they lived 40 per cent of more than untreated mice. "
The tests also showed that the treated mice were able to mate and produce offspring, while their untreated partners can not, "he says.
Although much more research must be done to see if the compound could be developed into a drug to help people with Kennedy's disease, Dr. Yang says it is a promising development in an area where progress has been slow.
"It will take several years to develop ASC-J9 into a drug for clinical use, but if successful, it will provide the first cure for Kennedy's disease," he said.
Kennedy's disease, also known as spinal and bulbar muscular atrophy, attacks against one of 40,000 people. Symptoms typically include difficulty speaking and swallowing, and weakness in the arms and legs. Patients are often diagnosed in the 30 and 40, and many end up using a wheelchair.
Yang, 35, was the first author of the study, which appears in the March edition of the journal Nature Medicine. He received his Ph.D. in Chawnshang Professor Chang, a prostate cancer at the University of Rochester Medical Center.
Professor Chang found earlier that spicy foods, including onions and garlic, cut in May men the risk of prostate cancer by half.
Ginger is widely used in China as a folk medicine to treat male baldness and promote perspiration to fight against the cold.
During the last decade, Western medicine has tested curry, finding that the spice can help fight against breast cancer, Alzheimer's disease and the blisters that come after radiation treatment for cancer.
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