Plant compounds give '1-2' punch to colon cancer

July 22, 2016
Uthayashanker Ezekiel, Ph.D., associate professor of biomedical laboratory science at Saint Louis University, uses a Western Blot Assembly to transfer proteins from gel to membrane as he studies the cancer-fighting properties of plant chemicals. Credit: Saint Louis University

The combination of two plant compounds that have medicinal properties - curcumin and silymarin - holds promise in treating colon cancer, according Saint Louis University research published in the June 23 issue of the Journal of Cancer.

Curcumin is the in the spice turmeric, which is present in spicy curry dishes, and silymarin is a component of milk thistle, which has been used to treat .

The researchers and their students studied a line of colon cancer cells in a laboratory model. They found treating the cells initially with curcumin, then with silymarin was more effective in fighting cancer than treating the cells with either phytochemical alone, said Uthayashanker Ezekiel, Ph.D., corresponding author and associate professor of biomedical laboratory science at Saint Louis University.

"The combination of phytochemicals inhibited colon from multiplying and spreading. In addition, when the were pre-exposed to curcumin and then treated with silymarin, the cells underwent a high amount of cell death," Ezekiel said.

"Phytochemicals may offer alternate therapeutic approaches to cancer treatments and avoid toxicity problems and side effects that chemotherapy can cause."

Ezekiel noted the research is a preliminary cell study, with more research ahead before scientists know if the compounds are an effective treatment for people who have colon cancer. He saw promise in using the phytochemicals to help prevent , which frequently is caused by lifestyle factors, such as diet.

Scientists next would need to study how the curcumin and silymarin impact the actions of molecules, such as genetic transcription and expression, that cause cells to change, Ezekiel said. Then the compounds would be studied in an animal model, then in humans.

"Concentrations of curcumin and silymarin that are too high could be harmful to people," he said. "We still have much to learn, and for now, it's so much safer to add a little spice to your diet and get your curcumin from foods that contain turmeric, such as curry, rather than taking high doses of the compound."

Explore further: Cures and curcumin: Turmeric offers potential therapy for oral cancers

More information: Amanda Montgomery et al, Curcumin Sensitizes Silymarin to Exert Synergistic Anticancer Activity in Colon Cancer Cells, Journal of Cancer (2016). DOI: 10.7150/jca.15690

Related Stories

Cures and curcumin: Turmeric offers potential therapy for oral cancers

April 24, 2015
Turmeric—the familiar yellow spice common in Indian and Asian cooking—may play a therapeutic role in oral cancers associated with human papillomavirus, according to new research published in ecancermedicalscience.

Curcumin may help overcome drug-resistant tuberculosis

March 24, 2016
New research indicates that curcumin—a substance in turmeric that is best known as one of the main components of curry powder—may help fight drug-resistant tuberculosis. In Asia, turmeric is used to treat many health ...

Curcumin blocks the metastasis of colon cancer by a novel mechanism

August 26, 2014
Novel research led by the UA Steele Children's Research Center has identified one of the mechanisms by which curcumin, a bioactive molecule derived from the spice turmeric, can prevent cancer cell metastasis in colon cancer.

Curcumin proved effective at combating cancer

March 16, 2015
WA scientists have helped re-affirm that curcumin, a chemical compound found in turmeric, is a safe and promising treatment for most cancers and other inflammation-driven diseases.

Recommended for you

Cancer immunotherapy may work better in patients with specific genes

December 15, 2017
Cancer cells arise when DNA is mutated, and these cells should be recognized as "foreign" by the immune system. However, cancer cells have found ways to evade detection by the immune system.

Scientists pinpoint gene to blame for poorer survival rate in early-onset breast cancer patients

December 15, 2017
A new study led by scientists at the University of Southampton has found that inherited variation in a particular gene may be to blame for the lower survival rate of patients diagnosed with early-onset breast cancer.

'Bet hedging' explains the efficacy of many combination cancer therapies

December 14, 2017
The efficacy of many FDA-approved cancer drug combinations is not due to synergistic interactions between drugs, but rather to a form of "bet hedging," according to a new study published by Harvard Medical School researchers ...

Liquid biopsy results differed substantially between two providers

December 14, 2017
Two Johns Hopkins prostate cancer researchers found significant disparities when they submitted identical patient samples to two different commercial liquid biopsy providers. Liquid biopsy is a new and noninvasive alternative ...

Testing the accuracy of FDA-approved and lab-developed cancer genetics tests

December 14, 2017
Cancer molecular testing can drive clinical decision making and help a clinician determine if a patient is a good candidate for a targeted therapeutic drug. Clinical tests for common cancer causing-mutations in the genes ...

Scientists unlock structure of mTOR, a key cancer cell signaling protein

December 14, 2017
Researchers in the Sloan Kettering Institute have solved the structure of an important signaling molecule in cancer cells. They used a new technology called cryo-EM to visualize the structure in three dimensions. The detailed ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.