Curcumin, a common Asian spice, has been making news in the past year as a potential treatment for mesothelioma. Scientists across the globe have found that curcumin combined with cancer-inhibiting molecules shows promise in slowing mesothelioma progression.
Curcumin comes from the plant that produces the spice turmeric. It has demonstrated its ability to slow mesothelioma growth in animal tissues. Over the past year, research studies have shown the same effect on mesothelioma cells from humans.
In these recent studies, scientists have found that the combination of curcumin and cancer-inhibiting peptides increase the levels of a protein inhibitor known to stop the spread of mesothelioma.
While platinum-based chemotherapy drugs are the standard treatment for mesothelioma, there is an urgent need for additional therapies, especially for treating drug-resistant mesothelioma.
Mesothelioma Growth and Inhibition
The cause of many cancers, particularly mesothelioma, is the intracellular protein and transcription factor known as STAT3 that controls the growth and survival of cells. In the case of cancer, STAT3 is known for triggering its onset and fueling its growth and spread.
STAT3 does have a protein inhibitor known as PIAS3, which can keep STAT3 from causing cancer. In mesothelioma, PIAS3 levels are low, which scientists believe increases STAT3 activation, causing the cancer cells to grow and proliferate.
Curcumin Studies and Results
In one study, researchers assessed PIAS3 expression in mesothelioma tissue samples and its effects on STAT3 activity. Scientists then examined the effects of curcumin and peptides extracted from PIAS3 on mesothelioma cancer cells.
What scientists found is that curcumin and PIAS3 peptides raised PIAS3 levels and lowered STAT3 activity, causing mesothelioma cells to die.
In another study, researchers examined the response of mesothelioma cells to curcumin therapy. They found that curcumin inhibited mesothelioma growth while also enhancing the efficacy of cisplatin, a chemotherapy drug commonly used to treat mesothelioma.
A third study conducted at Flinders Medical Center in South Australia proposed that it may be possible to predict which mesothelioma patients are likely to benefit from curcumin treatment.