- University of Leicester Research
extract from Curry Spice Turmeric 'could help cure cancer'
Articles - Press Releases below
University of Leicester
2010 University of Leicester Website Link
launched into curry chemical's cancer-fighting properties
May 07, 2012 12:05 AM
Effects of curcumin in chemotherapy investigated
by University of Leicester
Issued by Cancer Research UK and University
of Leicester on 7 May 2012
COMPOUNDS found in curry are being investigated
as a way of improving drug response in patients with advanced
bowel cancer in a new study launched today (Monday).
Scientists at the Cancer Research UK and
National Institute for Health Research Experimental Cancer
Medicine Centre (ECMC) in Leicester will investigate whether
tablets containing curcumin found in the spice turmeric
can be safely added to the standard treatment for bowel
cancer that has spread.
Earlier studies have shown that curcumin
can enhance the ability of chemotherapy to kill bowel cancer
cells in the lab.
The trial is being funded by Hope Against
Cancer, The Royal College of Surgeons and the Bowel Disease
Patients with advanced bowel cancer are usually
given a treatment called FOLFOX, which combines three chemotherapy
drugs. But around 40-60 per cent of patients dont respond
and, of those who do, side effects such as severe tingling
or nerve pain can limit the number of cycles patients can
Chief investigator Professor William Steward,
ECMC director at the University of Leicester, said: Once
bowel cancer has spread it is very difficult to treat, partly
because the side effects of chemotherapy can limit how long
patients can have treatment. The prospect that curcumin might
increase the sensitivity of cancer cells to chemotherapy is
exciting because it could mean giving lower doses, so patients
have fewer side effects and can keep having treatment for
This research is at a very early stage,
but investigating the potential of plant chemicals to treat
cancer is an intriguing area that we hope could provide clues
to developing new drugs in the future.
Around 40 patients with bowel cancer that
has spread to the liver will be recruited to take part in
the study at Leicester Royal Infirmary and Leicester General
Hospital. Three quarters of these will be given curcumin tablets
for seven days, before being treated with FOLFOX. The remainder
will receive FOLFOX only.
Colin Carroll, a 62-year-old compliance consultant
from near Loughborough, agreed to take part in the trial after
being diagnosed with advanced bowel cancer in January.
The diagnosis came as a big shock because
Id had no symptoms apart from some occasional cramps,
Id had a few tests which had
come back clear and Id just been booked for a CT scan
when I was rushed to hospital with a suspected intestinal
Scans showed Colin had bowel cancer which
had spread to his liver and, three days after being admitted
to Leicester Royal Infirmary, he underwent an emergency ileostomy
to bypass the blockage.
Its been like a whirlwind,
said Colin who will need to undergo chemotherapy until mid-August.
To have something creep up on you like that when you
have absolutely no control over it really makes you want to
fight back. Thats why I had no difficulty in agreeing
to take part in the trial.
Ive met some amazing people since
January and my treatment on the NHS has been fantastic. The
way I see it is that Im being given the best possible
chance so in that sense I feel very fortunate.
Dr Joanna Reynolds, Cancer Research UKs
director of centres, said: The Experimental Cancer Medicine
Centres Network supports research into some of the most novel
and exciting new anti-cancer therapies, often providing the
first insights into their effect on cancer patients. By doing
a clinical trial like this we will find out more about the
potential benefits of taking large amounts of curcumin, as
well as any possible side effects this could have for cancer
For media enquiries, please contact Ailsa
Stevens in the Cancer Research UK press office on 020 3469
8300 or, out of hours, 07050 264 059.
Release September 2010
An extract from the common curry spice turmeric
could help cure cancer, researchers believe.
Curcumin, an extract of the root turmeric,
has the ability to kill off cancer cells which are resistant
to chemotherapy, scientists at the University of Leicester
They have been using tissue from tumours
of bowel cancer patients to test their theory.
Dr Karen Brown, of the Department of Cancer
Studies and Molecular Medicine, said: "Tumours are made
up of different types of cells and some are resistant to chemotherapy
treatment which, in some cases, causes the tumours to grow
"We aren't yet treating patients but
looking at cells to see how effective curcumin is in killing
off the resistant stem cells."
Laboratory research shows that curcumin,
when combined with other chemotherapy drugs, has the ability
to destroy the resistant cells. Clinical trials have yet to
be carried out.
Dr Brown said: "It is a big step but
it is still likely to take at least five to 10 years before
it becomes part of treatment."
Dr Lynne Howells, a senior research fellow
at the university who is leading the study, said: "We
are primarily looking at treatment for bowel cancer where
the cancer has spread to the liver.
"However, the work could have much wider
implications in the treatment of other cancers."
Researchers now hope to carry out a study
with patients suffering from bowel cancer to test the safety
and quantities of curcumin which should be given.
Dr Howells said: "We will start with
a small dose the equivalent contained, for example,
in a normal curry. We are now hoping to give increasing amounts
to patients receiving chemotherapy."
But she warned patients should not rush out
and have a curry thinking it will do the trick.
"We don't yet know all the effects of
circumin and the amounts that should be given, she said.
"All this does need to be done in a
The work has won £75,000 worth of funding
over the next three years from Leicestershire charity, Hope
Against Cancer Website
Link ,which Dr Howells said "allows us to expand
our promising research".
The charity was founded in 2002 by the late
Allison Wilson, a former High Sheriff of Leicestershire, after
she was diagnosed with cancer and realised funding was needed
to develop care in Leicestershire and Rutland. Wendi Stevens,
from the charity, said: "It is thanks to a team of dedicated
volunteers and fund-raisers that we are able to fund exciting
research such as this in Leicester."
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