The study was conducted on a mouse model by researchers from Tohoku University in Sendai, Japan, and will be presented at the American Association for Cancer Research Centennial Conference on Translational Cancer Medicine.
Research has associated curcumin with several distinct actions, including the suppression of genes that promote cell growth, and induction of programmed cell death (apoptosis) in colorectal cancer. However, the downside is that natural curcumin has "low bioavailability" i.e. the molecule quickly loses its anti-cancer attributes when ingested.
With the aim of improving the therapeutic potential of curcumin lead researcher Hiroyuki Shibata, M.D, and his colleagues synthesized and tested 90 variations of the molecule's structure. They found that two variations, namely GO-Y030 and GO-Y031, proved to be more potent and bioavailable, than natural curcumin.
"Our new analogues have enhanced growth suppressive abilities against colorectal cancer cell lines, up to 30 times greater than natural curcumin," said Shibata, associate professor in the Department of Clinical Oncology at the Institute of Development, Aging and Cancer at Tohoku University. On the study they conducted on mice with colorectal cancer, they found that when fed with the variations, the rodents fared better than those in a control group.
"In a mouse model for colorectal cancer, mice fed with five milligrams of GO-Y030 or GO-Y031 fared 42 and 51 percent better, respectively, than did mice in the control group." Like curcumin, the researchers believe the new analogues have clinical potential that extends beyond colorectal cancer. "In addition to colorectal cancer, the â catenin-degrading abilities of these molecules could apply to other forms of cancer, such as gastric cancer," said Shibata.
"Like curcumin, these analogues also down-regulate a number of gene products, such as NF-kappa B, ErbB2, K-ras, that are also implicated in breast, pancreas and lung cancers among other diseases.
"In addition to their chemopreventative abilities, these molecules might also form the basis of a potent chemotherapy, either alone or in combination with other modes of therapy." The next step, the researchers state, is to further examine the drug delivery mechanisms, toxicology and pharmacokinetics of these analogues, before extending the research to clinical trials.
The study was funded by the Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science and the Miyagi Health Service Association.