Can Timed Release Of Turmeric Stop Cancer Cell Growth?

A drug delivery system using curcumin - the main ingredient in the spice turmeric - has been developed to successfully inhibit bone cancer cells while promoting growth of healthy bone cells. Researchers say this work could lead to better post-operative treatments for people with osteosarcoma, the second most prevalent cause of cancer death in children.

The Washington State University researchers work appears in the journal, ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces. Young patients with bone cancer are often treated with high doses of chemotherapy before and after surgery, many of which have harmful side effects. Researchers would like to develop gentler treatment options, especially after surgery when patients are trying to recover from bone damage at the same time that they are taking harsh drugs to suppress tumor growth.

Turmeric has been used in cooking and as medicine for centuries in Asian countries, and its active ingredient, curcumin has been shown to have anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory and bone-building capabilities. It has also been shown to prevent various forms of cancers. "I want people to know the beneficial effects of these natural compounds," says Susmita Bose, a Professor in Materials Science and Engineering MSE at the School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering MME and an Affiliate Professor in Chemistry at Washington State University WSU. "Natural biomolecules derived from these plant-based products are inexpensive and a safer alternative to synthetic drugs."

When taken orally as medicine, the compound can't be absorbed well in the body. It is metabolized and eliminated too quickly. The researchers used 3D printing to build support scaffolds out of calcium phosphate. While most implants are currently made of metal, such ceramic scaffolds, which are more like real bone, could someday be used as a graft material after bone cancer surgery. The researchers incorporated curcumin, encapsulated in a vesicle of fat molecules into the scaffolds, allowing for the gradual release of the chemical.

They found that their system inhibited the growth of osteosarcoma cells by 96 percent after 11 days as compared to untreated samples. The system also promoted healthy bone cell growth. "This study introduces a new era of integration where modern 3D printing technology is coupled with the safe and effective use of alternative medicine, which may provide a better tool for bone tissue engineering," Bose added.

Link Between Curry Spice And Exercise Performance

Curcumin, a chemical that comes from the turmeric plant, has been used as a traditional Asian medicine for centuries, primarily to treat gastrointestinal ailments and skin wounds. Recent research suggests that curcumin -  a major ingredient in curry - may have a positive impact on the exercise intolerance related to heart failure. The study - published in the Journal of Applied Physiology - suggests that the compound may also limit muscle wasting related to a number of health conditions including heart failure.

Heart failure is a major problem in the U.S. today affecting over six million people. Those affected have a reduced function of the left ventricle - the chamber that pumps blood to the rest of the body - known as reduced ejection factor. Another significant characteristic of heart failure is exercise intolerance - a decreased ability to exercise. Previous research has found that higher oxidative stress contributes to exercise intolerance in people affected with heart failure. Another thing synonymous to heart failure is lower than normal expression of antioxidant enzymes in the muscles. This is unclear at the moment as the availability of this antioxidant enzyme helps prevent and repair the damage caused by oxidative stress.

Researchers from the University of Nebraska Medical Center had a theory that a reduction in the normal signaling of Nrf2 - a protein that regulates the expression of antioxidant enzymes - may play a simple role in the impaired expression of antioxidant enzymes. The effects of curcumin are known to promote activation of Nrf2 on a mouse model of heart failure with reduced ejection fraction. For about 12 weeks, one group of mice with heart failure received daily doses of curcumin while another group received none.

Both groups were compared and the research team measured their exercise capacities. They also measured muscle fiber samples to check enzyme expression levels. They found that expressions of Nrf2 increased as well as the level of antioxidant enzymes in the animals with heart failure given curcumin. Both animals with heart failure and others without who received curcumin treatment had improved exercise capacity compared to the group that was not treated. This shows that curcumin has a positive effect on the skeletal muscles irrespective of heart failure.

From data presented, the activation of Nrf2 in skeletal muscles may present us with a great therapeutic model to improve the quality of human life in those with heart failure with reduced ejection fraction.

About The Author

Lisa S. Jones is a certified nurse, nutritionist, fitness coach and health expert. Her training credentials include a B.Sc. in Nursing from California State University in 2013 and Youth Nutrition Specialist Certification from the American Fitness Professionals and Associates in 2015. In 2017, she also received Holistic Nutrition Certification from the American Fitness Professionals and Associates.

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