Life Extension Update
Friday, May 11, 2012. An upcoming clinical trial conducted by the Cancer Research UK and National Institute for Health Research Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre (ECMC) in Leicester, England will evaluate the effectiveness of curcumin, a compound that occurs in turmeric, as a means of improving the results of standard chemotherapy for metastatic colon cancer. The compound has been found to enhance chemotherapy's ability to kill colon cancer cells in previous research involving cell cultures.
Colorectal cancer patients are commonly treated with a combination of three chemotherapy drugs, yet approximately half of those treated fail to respond and those who do respond are frequently plagued with side effects such as severe nerve pain. "Once bowel cancer has spread it is very difficult to treat, partly because the side effects of chemotherapy can limit how long patients can have treatment," commented chief investigator William Steward, who is the ECMC director at the University of Leicester. "The prospect that curcumin might increase the sensitivity of cancer cells to chemotherapy is exciting because it could mean giving lower doses, so patients have fewer side effects and can keep having treatment for longer."
The trial will recruit 40 patients with colon cancer that has metastasized to the liver. Three-fourths of the participants will be administered curcumin supplements for one week prior to being treated with standard chemotherapy drugs, while the remainder will receive chemotherapy alone.
"The Experimental Cancer Medicine Centres Network supports research into some of the most novel and exciting new anticancer therapies, often providing the first insights into their effect on cancer patients," remarked Dr Joanna Reynolds, who is Cancer Research UK's director of centers. "By doing a clinical trial like this we will find out more about the potential benefits of taking large amounts of curcumin, as well as any possible side effects this could have for cancer patients."
"This research is at a very early stage, but investigating the potential of plant chemicals to treat cancer is an intriguing area that we hope could provide clues to developing new drugs in the future," Dr Steward added.
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