Los Angeles: Curcumin, a substance in turmeric, may provide lasting protection against potentially deadly lung damage in premature infants, a new study led by an Indian-origin scientist has claimed.
Turmeric, a key ingredient in spicy curry dishes, has long been known to have medicinal values. Premature infants often need the assistance of ventilators and forced oxygen therapy because they're frequently born with inadequate lung function. These therapies can cause the infants to suffer lasting lung damage and even death.
Researchers at Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center (LA BioMed), using disease models, found curcumin provided long-term protection against this damage.
The study, published in the American Journal of Physiology, Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology, found curcumin provided protection against bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BDP), a condition characterized by scarring and inflammation, and against hyperoxia, in which too much oxygen enters the body through the lungs, for up to 21 days after birth.
A previous LA BioMed study had found curcumin provided protection for up to seven days after birth. "This is the first study to find long-term benefits of using curcumin to protect lung function in premature infants," said Virender K Rehan, the LA BioMed lead researcher who authored the study.
"Curcumin is known to have potent antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties, making it a promising therapy for premature infants who require oxygen therapy after birth," Rehan said.


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