Wednesday September 19, 2018

Researchers Unveil the Power of Turmeric in Fighting Cancer

Curcumin is also known to exhibit anti-cancer properties, but its poor solubility in water had impeded curcumin's clinical application in cancer

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Cancer
Cancer Ribbon. Pixabay
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A team of Indian-American researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) and at the University of Utah at Salt Lake City, has used an ingenious process to enable curcumin to kill cancer cells.

Curcumin is the active ingredient of turmeric (haldi), the ubiquitous kitchen spice that gives curry its yellow color. Turmeric has been used in India for thousands of years as a spice and medicinal herb because of its powerful anti-inflammatory and strong antioxidant property.

Curcumin is also known to exhibit anti-cancer properties, but its poor solubility in water had impeded curcumin’s clinical application in cancer. A drug needs to be soluble in water as otherwise it will not flow through the bloodstream.

Despite decades of research, the development of efficient strategies that can effectively deliver poorly water-soluble curcumin to cancer cells had remained a challenge.

A team headed by Dipanjan Pan, associate professor of bioengineering at UIUC, has now found a way out.

“Curcumin’s medicinal benefit can be fully appreciated if its solubility issue is resolved,” Pan told this correspondent in an e-mail.

turmeric
Indian-American researchers unleash turmeric’s power to fight cancer. Pixabay

Pan’s laboratory collaborated with Peter Stang at the University of Utah on ways to be able to render curcumin soluble, deliver it to infected tumors and kill the cancer cells.

Because platinum is a commonly used cancer therapeutic agent in the clinic, the researchers decided to experiment with a drug consisting of a combination of platinum and curcumin.

“It is a combination of clever chemistry and nano-precipitation utilising host guest chemistry,” Pan explained. “The sophisticated chemistry leads to self-assembled hierarchical structure that drives the solubility of curcumin and simultaneously delivers an additional anticancer agent, i.e. platinum. The combined therapeutic effect — of curcumin and platinum — is lethal for the cancer cells.”

The team has reported its work in the “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences” in the US.

According to their report, the metallocyclic complex created using platinum “not only enabled curcumin’s solubility, but proved to be 100 times more effective in treating various cancer types such as melanoma and breast cancer cells than using curcumin and platinum agents separately”.

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“Our results demonstrate that curcumin works completely in sync with platinum and exerts synergistic effect to show remarkable anticancer properties,” says the report. “The platinum-curcumin combination kills the cells by fragmenting its DNA.”

“Extensive animal studies are in progress in my laboratory, including in rodents and pigs,” Pan said. His team also hopes to prove that this method will be effective in killing cancer stem cells — the birth place of cancer cells — thereby preventing the recurrence of cancer.

Pan’s team included post-doctoral researcher Santosh Misra at UIUC, and Sougata Datta, Manik Lal Saha, Nabajit Lahiri, Janis Louie, and Peter J. Stang from the University of Utah. (IANS)

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Gut Microbiota Can Help Identify Liver Cancer: Researchers

Gut microbiota can help the body digest certain foods that the stomach and small intestine have not been able to digest.

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Liver Cancer
How gut microbiota can aid in early diagnosis of liver cancer.

Chinese researchers have identified gut microbiota as a new biomarker of liver cancer, that can help in early diagnosis as well as treatment of the condition.

Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the most common type of liver cancer and the third leading cause of cancer-related death worldwide.

Due to the absence of specific symptoms in early stages and the lack of diagnostic markers, most patients with HCC are often diagnosed in an advanced stage.

Liver Cancer
AFP is a plasma protein that is produced in abundance by the liver cells. Pixabay

Researchers from China’s Zhejiang University, and Zhengzhou University, found that the microbial diversity in patients with cirrhosis was significantly lower than that in healthy people, but it increased when cirrhosis develops into cancer, the Xinhua reported.

Human gut microbiota has been considered the most important micro-ecosystem living with the body, containing tens of trillions of microorganisms, including at least 1,000 species of bacteria with more than 3 million genes.

Gut microbiota can help the body digest certain foods that the stomach and small intestine have not been able to digest.

Liver Cancer
A high-magnification image from a 2012 glioblastoma case is seen as an example in this College of American Pathologists image released from Northfield. VOA

For the study, appearing in the journal Gut, the team collected 486 fecal samples from across the country.

Also Read: Deaths Due to Cancer Increases to More Than 18 Mn Every Year: WHO

About 12 bacteria genera decreased and six increased in patients with early cancer compared with healthy people.

According to researchers, more data and further studies are needed to confirm the validity and reliability of the model. (IANS)