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New Hope of Treating Cancer With Curcumin

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 New Hope of Treating Cancer With Curcumin

Good old 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.

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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 properties 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.
  • Several 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:

Effect of 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%.

Antitumor 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 cell line.

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.

Inhibition 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.

Source: Medindia

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