(RxWiki News) Turmeric - the Indian curry spice - has been spicing up the cancer world for a while now. Why? Because its main ingredient curcumin has been shown to calm inflammation and have anti-cancer properties.
New research reveals potential new therapeutic uses for the spice.
Curcumin appears to slow the growth of tumors in men with castration-resistant prostate cancer who are on androgen deprivation therapy (ADT), according to a pre-clinical study.
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Researchers at Thomas Jefferson University Kimmel Cancer Center, led by Karen Knudsen, Ph.D., professor of cancer biology, urology and radiation oncology, found that the active ingredient in turmeric tamps down two proteins that are known to work against ADT.
ADT is a drug therapy used to block male hormones that drive prostate cancer. A key reason why ADT fails - which then leads to the disease progressing to an advanced state - is that these two molecules start acting screwy.
These proteins are called nuclear receptor activators, p300 and CPB (or CREB1-binding protein). And these guys work together to help tumor cells to escape the therapy. So new targets are needed to help get the therapy back on track.
For this research, Knudsen and colleagues prostate cancer cells were stripped of hormones within the presence and absence of realistic - what researchers called "physiologically attainable" - dose of curcumin.
When compared to ADT alone, researchers found that curcumin improves the results of ADT and reduces the number of cancer cells. Additionally, the spice was able to block the prostate cancer cell cycles and survival.
To support these findings, researchers repeated the study on mice models and again found that tumor growth and size were significantly decreased in the animals who had been treated with curcumin.
Translated, what this study shows for the first time is that curcumin helps prevent the progression of prostate cancer and is also effective in slowing the growth of tumors that are already established in castrate-resistant prostate cancer.
Knudsen says, "This study sets the stage for further development of curcumin as a novel agent to target androgen receptor signaling." She adds that it may also prove helpful in other cancers, such as breast cancer since p300 and CBP play roles in these malignancies as well.
These findings were reported in the February, 2012 issue of Cancer Research.
Sources of funding was not discussed, and conflicts of interest were not disclosed.