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Treatment-Resistant Cancer Cells - Curcumin Nanoparticles In For the Kill

Treatment-Resistant Cancer Cells - Curcumin Nanoparticles In For the Kill

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  • Neuroblastomas are cancers that occur in children below 5 years of age
  • A new study has found that loading nanoparticles with a turmeric component called curcumin can destroy neuroblastoma tumor cells
  • The findings show that nanoparticles loaded with curcumin could be a novel method to treat neuroblastoma without toxicity

A research team at Nemours Children's Hospital and the University of Central Florida found that attaching curcumin, the principal component of turmeric, to nanoparticles can help to target and destroy treatment-resistant neuroblastoma tumor cells.

Cancer is one of the leading causes of death worldwide. Scientists have been conducting various research studies to find better ways to prevent and treat cancer. Cancer is treated with various combinations of drugs and treatments. Now, scientists have found that a common spice, turmeric, could be the key to cancer treatment.


The research team demonstrated that nanoparticles loaded with turmeric component curcumin could be a potentially novel treatment for neuroblastoma, which is the most common cancer in infants.

High-risk neuroblastoma is resistant to traditional therapy, and the survival is poor. A novel approach to target neuroblastoma tumor cells with nanoparticle delivery systems holds promise for the treatment of resistant tumors.

Nanoparticles Loaded with Curcumin to Treat Neuroblastoma

Studies have shown that curcumin has anti-cancer properties, but, its low solubility and poor stability have made its use challenging. The research team from Nemours and UCF found that nanoparticles can be used to deliver curcumin to tumor sites.

For the study, the scientists loaded Cerium oxide nanoparticles with curcumin and coated them with dextran to test cell lines of a high-risk form of neuroblastoma, known as MYCN-amplified, as well as non-amplified neuroblastoma.

Nanoparticles loaded with curcumin induced substantial cell death in neuroblastoma cells while producing minor toxicity in healthy cells. The research team found that nano-therapeutic treatments have a more pronounced effect in MYCN-amplified cells, which are traditionally more resistant to drug therapies.

"This shows that nanoparticles can be an effective delivery vehicle for cancer drugs. However, more research is needed, but we are hopeful it could lead to more effective treatment of this devastating disease in the future," said Professor Sudipta Seal, Director of UCF's NanoScience Technology Center and Advanced Materials Processing Analysis Center.

"This research demonstrates a novel method of treating this tumor without the toxicity of aggressive therapy that can also have late effects on the patient's health. We are hopeful that in the future, nanoparticles can be utilized to personalize care to patients and reduce the late effects of therapy," said Tamarah J. Westmoreland, MD, PhD, a pediatric surgeon at Nemours Children's Health System and senior author of the study.

The study is published in Nanoscale.


Neuroblastomas are cancers that often start in the embryo or fetus. Neuroblastomas occur in early nerve cells and commonly form in the tissue of the adrenal glands. These type of cancers occur in children younger than 5-years. High-risk neuroblastoma is hard to treat and is more likely to become resistant to standard therapies, or recur. High-risk neuroblastoma is also associated with late effects after treatments have ended, including hearing loss, developmental delays, and other disabilities.

Facts About Neuroblastoma
  • In the United States, about 700 new cases of neuroblastoma are diagnosed each year
  • One out of three neuroblastomas starts in the adrenal glands
  • One out of four neuroblastomas begins in sympathetic nerve ganglia in the abdomen
  • About 90% of the neuroblastoma cases are diagnosed by age 5
  • Neuroblastoma is rare in children over the age of 10 years
  • About 50-60% of high-risk neuroblastoma patients will have a relapse
Reference :
  1. Irina Kalashnikova, Joseph Mazar, Craig J. Neal, Amy L. Rosado, Soumen Das, Tamarah J. Westmoreland, Sudipta Seal. Nanoparticle delivery of curcumin induces cellular hypoxia and ROS-mediated apoptosis via modulation of Bcl-2/Bax in human neuroblastoma. Nanoscale, 2017; 9 (29): 10375 DOI: 10.1039/C7NR02770B
Source: Medindia

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