Curry compound may aid in cancer fight

July 22, 2010

Jamboor Vishwanatha, PhD and dean of the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, is in the early stages of developing a technology to encapsulate an anticancer compound called curcumin. This compound, similar to tumeric in curry, has the ability to kill cancer cells and has been used in traditional medicine for many centuries in India and China.

Vishwanatha and Anindita Mukerjee, post doctoral research associate, have investigated encapsulating curcumin in polylacticco-glycolic acid (PLGA) nanospheres to deliver it to the cancerous tissue in its active form. However, its poor solubility in water makes delivery of the substance tricky. Approximately 80 percent of curcumin received orally is wasted.

During Vishwantha and Mukerjee’s research, smooth, spherical curcumin-loaded PLGA nanospheres efficiently delivered high levels of the material to the target areas. Their study showed that curcumin was released over a prolonged period and curcumin-loaded nanospheres were able to exert more pronounced effects on prostate cancer cells than free curcumin, proving its high potential as therapy for prostate cancer.

Vishwanatha’s research is being sponsored by Sign Path Pharma in Pennsylvania. Sign Path Pharma is working on commercializing this new technology as a form of cancer treatment. It currently has a license with the Health Science Center to test the technology at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.

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