Indian Institute of Technology, Madras researchers have showcased that the active principle from turmeric and curcumin may enhance cancer cell death. Furthermore, the study showed that curcumin significantly increased the sensitivity of leukaemia cells to TNF-Related Apoptosis-Inducing Ligand’ (TRAIL).  TRAIL is a protein that causes death of cancer cells. Prof. Rama Shanker Verma, Bhupat and Jyoti Mehta School of Biosciences, Department of Biotechnology, IIT Madras spearheaded the research.

The results of this work were recently published in the renowned, peer-reviewed journal Pharmacological Reports. Sridevi Surapally, Madhumathi Jayaprakasam and Prof. Verma have co-authored the paper.

The research, however, showcased these results in-situ (in a test tube). Consequently, the outcomes may vary in the human body.  Curcumin is has a  poor likelihood for absorption into the blood from the gut. Its bioavailability for therapeutic purposes is generally inadequate; therefore, there are doubts about the efficacy of the research.

What You Should Know

  • Indian Institute of Technology, Madras researchers have showcased that the active principle from turmeric and curcumin may enhance cancer cell death.
  • The study showed that curcumin significantly increased the sensitivity of leukemia cells to TNF-Related Apoptosis-Inducing Ligand’ (TRAIL). TRAIL is a protein that causes death of cancer cells.
  • Rama Shanker Verma, Bhupat and Jyoti Mehta School of Biosciences, Department of Biotechnology, IIT Madras spearheaded the research.
  • The results of this work were recently published in the renowned, peer-reviewed journal Pharmacological Reports.
  • The research, however, showcased these results in-situ. Consequently, the outcomes may vary in the human body.

“A few researchers have shown that compounds such as quercetin found in onions and green tea and piperazine, found in black and green pepper, enhance absorption of curcumin by the body,”  Mr. Verma told The Hindu.

Key Findings

The IIT Madras Research Team performed experiments using isolated leukaemia cells from cancer patients. Consequently, it discovered that non-toxic concentrations of curcumin can significantly increase the efficacy  of TRAIL-induced cell death.

Curcumin is deemed to be a potent anti-cancer agent because of its ability to inhibit carcinogenesis and induce apoptosis in various cancer cells.  Apoptosis is programmed cell death and is conventionally preferred over the necrosis for killing cancer cells. It releases fewer inflammation inducing cellular components than the latter.

The researchers used the isotype controls of the respective and diverse patient groups for analysis. They investigated the ability of curcumin to modulate the TRAIL pathway in leukemic cells.

TRAIL in combination with curcumin could be an effective therapeutic strategy for the treatment and management of leukaemia. Researchers observed modest therapeutic efficiency of TRAIL in primary leukemic cells when they utilised a single agent. In contrast, when used with curcumin, it showed significant improvement in the majority of the patient samples.

Therefore, the researchers stated that the best strategy is to combine TRAIL with other agents. Consequently, the combination would bypass the resistance mechanisms and hence, sensitize the cancer cells to TRAIL-apoptosis.

Also read: Clinician-Scientist Gagandeep Kang Resigns From Top Research Institute

Ria Chakraborty is an intern with SheThePeople.TV

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