Turmeric, an essential ingredient that spices up an Indian curry, may help fight drug-resistant tuberculosis, new research has found.
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In Asia, turmeric is already used to treat many health conditions and it has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and perhaps even anticancer properties, the study pointed out.
Researchers have now found that by stimulating human immune cells called macrophages, curcumin - a substance in turmeric -- was able to successfully remove Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the causative bacterium of tuberculosis (TB), from experimentally infected cells in culture.
The process relied on inhibiting the activation of a cellular molecule called nuclear factor-kappa B.
"Our study has provided basic evidence that curcumin protects against Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection in human cells," said lead author of the study Xiyuan Bai from the University of Colorado School of Medicine in the US. The findings appeared in the journal Respirology.
The ability of curcumin to modulate the immune response to Mycobacterium tuberculosis points to a potential new tuberculosis treatment that would be less prone to the development of drug resistance.
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"The protective role of curcumin to fight drug-resistant tuberculosis still needs confirmation, but if validated, curcumin may become a novel treatment to modulate the host immune response to overcome drug-resistant tuberculosis," Bai noted.