traditional ingredients found in your kitchen cabinet have long been used as
effective alternatives in treating various ailments. One such component is
turmeric or Curcuma longa.
A review article
on various formulations of curcumin (alone as well as loaded into various
delivery devices) and its effect on cancer particularly ovarian cancer using
animal models was published in the online version of the journal Food and Nutrition Sciences.
Turmeric is not
just a spice that lends yellow color to your food, but due to the presence of
its active ingredient curcumin, it also has numerous medicinal properties. It
is considered a powerful anti-inflammatory as well as a strong antioxidant.
Current evidences highlight the anti-cancer
of curcumin, thus making it a possible new weapon against cancer.
With the rising
costs of cancer
treatments, there is a dire need
to find novel alternative cures that was not only safe and efficient, but also
affordable for use. Curcumin appears to be an ideal candidate since it does
have anti-cancer effects. However, it has been unable to take off as an
anticancer drug due to some of its disadvantages:
- Due to curcumin's extremely low solubility in
water, quick break down and excretion after being absorbed in the human body,
it is difficult to use it orally.
- Another problem that
hinders the oral use of curcumin as anticancer agent is its low bioavailability
(the amount available to the body) due to enhanced metabolism and excretion.
formulations are being devised to overcome the disadvantages in delivery of
curcumin to the target site. However, some of the delivery devices have
moderate or limited loading capacity, while curcumin is unstable in some
delivery systems. These issues still remain to be addressed.
The review article listed studies that used free or
loaded curcumin to demonstrate its anticancer effects. These studies were done
on cell lines in the laboratory or in mice. Some of these are listed below:
unloaded curcumin on ovarian cancer
Liduan and his associates studied the inhibitory
effects of unloaded curcumin or free curcumin on growth of ovarian tumor cells.
The results revealed that curcumin suppressed the growth of these cancer cells
in a time- and dose-dependent manner. It was seen that the rates of cell death
after treatment with curcumin ranged from 6.41% - 28.48%. They also found that
in human ovarian cells, inhibition rates of tumor cells were 62.05% - 89.24%.
potential of curcumin loaded into different delivery systems
Dhule and his associates developed a curcumin
nanoformulation, which showed promising results against osteosarcoma cell line
as well as breast cancer
Chen and his associates showed that curcumin-soybean
phospholipids-liposome inhibited the growth of B16BL6 melanoma cells.
Studies were also conducted using curcumin loaded
chitin nanogels (CCNGs) on human dermal fibroblast cells and human melanoma
(A375) cell lines; the results showed that the nanogels were especially toxic
towards A375 melanoma cells, but showed less toxicity towards the human dermal
fibroblast cells. This shows that the formulation could be more specific
towards cancerous cells of the skin with less effect on normal cells.
Effects of Loaded Curcumin on Growth of Ovarian Cancer in Vitro
Ganata and Amiji prepared a nanoemulsion formulation by
encapsulating curcumin and the drug paclitaxel in flaxseed oil. They
demonstrated that both curcumin and paclitaxel were efficiently
delivered inside cells in both sensitive ovarian cancer
as well as drug resistant
cells, and the combination was very toxic to the cells. They stipulated that
curcumin inhibited the activity of nuclear factor kappa B (NFkB) and expression
of P-glycoprotein drug resistant cells, as well as stimulated apoptosis.
Future studies will hopefully bring curcumin closer to
being used as an anticancer drug in humans.