Component in Spice May Be “Double Hit” Against Mesothelioma, According to Surviving Mesothelioma

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New research could have mesothelioma doctors spicing up their treatment protocols.

Our data indicates that curcumin has a double effect on malignant mesothelioma cells...

Surviving Mesothelioma is reporting on new research out of Vermont that suggests that curcumin, the primary component in the dietary spice turmeric, may be a powerful ally in the fight against malignant mesothelioma. The new study, published in the journal Cancer Prevention Research, finds that curcumin may both attack existing mesothelioma cells and protect against the development of new ones.

Curcumin is a polyphenol with anti-inflammatory properties. Numerous studies have confirmed its ability to help fight cancer, including mesothelioma. In the newest study, a team at the University of Vermont tested curcumin on human mesothelioma cell lines as well as cells derived from infected mice.

When these cells were exposed to curcumin in the lab, many responded with pyroptosis, a form of cell death associated with inflammation. Unlike apoptosis, another form of natural cell death, pyroptosis is dependent on the presence of an enzyme called caspase-1. When this enzyme was inhibited, cells were protected against curcumin-induced pyroptosis.

At the same time, the study found that curcumin “significantly downregulated levels of inflammasome-related gene expression”. Inflammasomes are a component of inflammation and the finding suggests that curcumin may have a protective effect against the further development of mesothelioma. In a published summary of their results, the authors report, “Our data indicates that curcumin has a double effect on malignant mesothelioma cells through induction of pyroptosis while subsequently protecting against inflammation.”

Previous studies of curcumin’s effect on mesothelioma cells have found that it may induce autophagy (cellular breakdown and component recycling) and apoptosis (programmed cell death) and may slow the growth of mesothelioma cells by stimulating certain growth-suppressing proteins. A 2011 study out of Detroit found that curcumin may even boost the effectiveness of cisplatin-based chemotherapy against mesothelioma. Alternative treatments like curcumin are especially critical in treatment-resistant mesothelioma, which is often fatal within a year of diagnosis.

The new curcumin study appears in Cancer Prevention Research. (Miller, JM, “Curcumin: A Double Hit on Malignant Mesothelioma”, January 15, 2014, Cancer Prevention Research, Epub ahead of print, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24431405)

For nearly ten years, Surviving Mesothelioma has brought readers the most important and ground-breaking news on the causes, diagnosis and treatment of mesothelioma. All Surviving Mesothelioma news is gathered and reported directly from the peer-reviewed medical literature. Written for patients and their loved ones, Surviving Mesothelioma news helps families make more informed decisions.

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Michael Ellis
Cancer Monthy
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