A new study by Indian-origin researchers says that pre-treatment with a component of the spice turmeric, called curcumin, makes ovarian cancer cells more vulnerable to chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
The researchers found that delivering the curcumin via very small (less than 100nm) nanoparticles enhanced the sensitizing effect.
Dr. Subhash Chauhan, and Dr. Meena Jaggi, led a team of researchers from Sanford Research and the University of South Dakota, USA, who carried out the in vitro study.
"One strategy to improve the effectiveness and limit the toxicity of cancer therapy is to induce chemo/radio-sensitisation in cancer cells using natural dietary phytochemicals like curcumin. However, curcumin is poorly absorbed by the body, which limits its effectiveness. We have developed a nanoparticle formulation, Nano-CUR, to provide increased bio availability as well as targeted delivery of curcumin into tumours," they said.
On testing the effects of their curcumin formulation on therapy-resistant ovarian cancer cells, the researchers could show, for the first time, that the pre-treatment lowers the dose of cisplatin and radiation treatment needed to suppress the growth of the cancer cells.
"Nanoparticle mediated curcumin delivery will further improve the sensitization and therapeutic capabilities. This study demonstrates a novel pre-treatment strategy that could be implemented in pre-clinical animal models and in future clinical trials," said Chauhan.
The study has been published in BioMed Central's open access Journal of Ovarian Research.