Promising Lab Research Focuses on Chemical Compounds Found in Curry Spice, Wine and Apple Skins
Iona Chemistry Students Will Participate in Further Research
NEW ROCHELLE, NY (December 2010) Do curry spice, wine and apple
skins hold the answer for finding a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and other neurological disorders? The results of a laboratory research project, recently published in the Journal of Neurochemistry, show that a chemical compound derived from these natural products may be used in neutralizing the toxic effects of chemicals associated with some debilitating and life-threatening neurological diseases.
The findings are the result of a four-year study undertaken by Terrence
Gavin, Ph.D., a chemistry professor at Iona College and Richard M. LoPachin,
Ph.D, a neurochemist and director of research in the Department of Anesthesiology at Montefiore Medical Center and the Albert Einstein College of Medicine.
In lab experiments it was found that the compound, called 2-ACP, completely protects nerve cells from the harmful effects of type-2 alkenes. There is growing evidence that exposure to type 2-alkenes, which are found in the smoke inhaled from cigarettes, the exhaust of automobiles and even in French fried potatoes, can increase the chances of developing Alzheimer’s and other neurological conditions. In addition, studies have shown type-2 alkenes are being produced within the nerve endings during the disease process that presumably initiates Alzheimer’s.
Dr. Gavin said: “The research Dr. LoPachin and I undertook is promising
because chemical compounds extracted from curry spice, red wine and apple skins, which are widely used natural products, have already been clinically demonstrated to have neuroprotective properties. This suggests it would be safe and effective to treat humans with the 2-ACP compound.”
He added: “But, these molecular findings worked in laboratory cultures. We now need to confirm the effects of 2-ACP in animal studies. That will be the focus of our efforts in the coming months.”
In addition, Dr. Gavin and some of his students at Iona will be looking for new
compounds that will be as good or better than 2-ACP in combating the effects of type 2-alkenes. “Our goal is to have new compounds ready for testing in six months. This is a very exciting scientific exploration,” Dr. Gavin stated.
Dr. Gavin has been a chemistry professor at Iona since 1982. He holds a doctoral degree in chemistry from the State University of New York at Stony Brook and attended the State University of New York at New Paltz where he earned a B.A. degree. He and his family live in New Paltz.