Curcumin To Be Tried In Colon Cancer Patients

Curcumin to be tried in colon cancer patients

Curcumin to be tried in colon cancer patients

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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Curcumin may help in castration resistant prostate cancer

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In an article published online on January 18, 2012 in Cancer Research, Professor of Cancer Biology, Urology and Radiation Oncology Karen Knudsen, PhD and her associates at Thomas Jefferson University report a benefit for curcumin, an isoflavone found in the spice turmeric, in reducing the growth of castration-resistant prostate cancer in men undergoing androgen deprivation therapy. Androgen deprivation therapy is a treatment for prostate cancer that works by inhibiting the androgen receptor. While androgen deprivation therapy is effective in many cases of prostate cancer, the disease often becomes resistant to therapy due to reactivation of the androgen receptor, necessitating other methods of treatment.

"Nuclear receptors and pioneer factors drive the development and progression of prostate cancer," the authors write. "In this disease, aggressive disease phenotypes and hormone therapy failures result from resurgent activity of androgen receptor and the upregulation of coactivator protein p300 and pioneer factors. Thus, a major current emphasis in the field is to identify mechanisms by which castrate-resistant androgen receptor activity and pioneer factor function can be combinatorially suppressed."

In preliminary research, curcumin was found to suppress the nuclear receptor activators p300 and CREB1-binding protein (CBP), which work against androgen deprivation therapy. For the current study, Dr Knudsen's team utilized prostate cancer cells subjected to androgen deprivation, and found that the addition of physiologically attainable doses of curcumin resulted in cell cycle inhibition and a reduction in survival compared to cancer cells that did not receive curcumin. In another experiment using mice that were castrated and implanted with prostate tumors, animals that received curcumin experienced decreased tumor growth and mass compared with untreated mice.

"This study sets the stage for further development of curcumin as a novel agent to target androgen receptor signaling," Dr Knudsen stated. "It also has implications beyond prostate cancer since p300 and CBP are important in other malignancies, like breast cancer. In tumors where these play an important function, curcumin may prove to be a promising therapeutic agent."

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