Cooking Spice Makes Head, Neck Cancer Drug more Effective
LOS ANGELES, June 5 (UPI) — Researchers decreased cell resistance to the chemotherapy drug Cisplatin for head and neck cancers using a synthetic version of the cooking spice turmeric, or curcumin, the results of a two-year study show.
The synthetic curcumin has been shown to have a modest effect on cancer cell death in 20 studies of human cancers, including colon, pancreatic, breast, prostate cancers, and multiple myelomas, leading researchers to test it on head and neck cancers.
Using a first-of-its-kind liposome to deliver the curcumin to cancer cells, the study found the spice was effective at killing Cisplatin-resistant head and neck squamous cell carcinomas (HNSCC).
“Cisplatin goes through the p16 and p53 pathways, while the curcumin uses an alternate pathway,” said Dr. Marilene Wang, director of the Nasal and Sinus Center at UCLA, in a press release. “The resistant cell lines don’t respond to the typical pathway that Cisplatin would go through; that’s why curcumin is able to kill the resistant cancer cells.”
Head and neck cancers affect 600,000 people worldwide and more than 42,000 in the United States alone, with five-year survival rates at 57 percent. Researchers hope the study leads to human clinical trials for using the spice-therapy with patients.
The study is published in Oncotarget.