New evidence suggests a role for curcumin and related compounds in the treatment of cancer and Alzheimer's disease

January 30, 2018, Royal Holloway, University of London
New evidence suggests a role for curcumin and related compounds in the treatment of cancer and Alzheimer's disease
Credit: Royal Holloway, University of London

It has long been believed that curcumin, a component of the golden spice (turmeric), has medicinal properties, but problems with its bioavailability and a lack of understanding of how it works have complicated its use.

In a new paper published today in Disease, Models and Mechanisms, Professor Robin SB Williams from the School of Biological Sciences at Royal Holloway, University of London, has identified a way that curcumin may have therapeutic effects and has identified related with the same that may provide better bioavailability.

Natural remedies

Professor Williams, said: "Natural products obtained from plants have been used for thousands of years as medicines, but we often do not understand how they work. What we wanted to do was to investigate curcumin to try to understand how it modifies cell functions."

The researchers used a species of amoeba (Dictyostelium discoideum) to investigate how curcumin and related compounds effect the amoeba. They then identified genes that controlled these effects. Two genes were shown to be necessary for the effect of curcumin, and these genes have been associated with both Alzheimer's disease and cancer. The researchers also identified more soluble compounds related to curcumin that work in the same way.

Animal-free experiment

These novel experiments could pave the way for a better understanding of curcumin and its applications, including its use in treatment of disease. "One of the major issues with curcumin is it has low ," explains Dr. Marco Cocorocchio, the lead author of the study. "Bioavailability is the proportion of curcumin that your body can actually use once you've ingested it. Because this is relatively low, it's been hard to know what effects curcumin could have. These experiments have shown that there may be a positive effect but we need to on how we could use it."

Professor Williams, who is a world-leader in biological testing without using animals, said: "Scientific research in the areas of medicine and toxicology have traditionally relied upon using animals as a model to understand what happens in the human body, but concern over the use of in research has triggered the investigation of new approaches. We have developed one approach—utilising the social amoeba Dictyostelium—so no animal testing was needed."

The outcome of the project will be a new focus on the use of , and related compounds that are more bioavailable, as potential treatments for cancer and Alzheimer's disease.

Explore further: Curcumin improves memory and mood, study says

More information: Marco Cocorocchio et al. Curcumin and derivatives function through protein phosphatase 2A and presenilin orthologues in Dictyostelium discoideum, Disease Models & Mechanisms (2017). DOI: 10.1242/dmm.032375

Related Stories

Curcumin improves memory and mood, study says

January 23, 2018
Lovers of Indian food, give yourselves a second helping: Daily consumption of a certain form of curcumin—the substance that gives Indian curry its bright color—improved memory and mood in people with mild, age-related ...

Mechanisms ID'd for curcumin resensitization of cancer cells

August 2, 2017
(HealthDay)—Curcumin can resensitize chemoresistant pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) cells through inhibition of the polycomb repressive complex 2 (PRC2)-PVT1-c-Myc axis, according to a study published online July ...

Contrary to decades of hype, curcumin alone is unlikely to boost health

January 11, 2017
Curcumin, a compound in turmeric, continues to be hailed as a natural treatment for a wide range of health conditions, including cancer and Alzheimer's disease. But a new review of the scientific literature on curcumin has ...

Topical curcumin gel effective in treating burns and scalds

March 14, 2017
What is the effect of Topical Curcumin Gel for treating burns and scalds? In a recent research paper, published in the open access journal BioDiscovery, Dr. Madalene Heng, Clinical Professor of Dermatology at the David Geffen ...

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

July 22, 2016
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 ...

Recommended for you

Genetic changes associated with physical activity reported

December 10, 2018
Time spent sitting, sleeping and moving is determined in part by our genes, University of Oxford researchers have shown. In one of the most detailed projects of its kind, the scientists studied the activity of 91,105 UK Biobank ...

Study may offer doctors a more effective way to treat neuroblastoma

December 7, 2018
A very large team of researchers, mostly from multiple institutions across Germany, has found what might be a better way to treat patients with neuroblastoma, a type of cancer. In their paper published in the journal Science, ...

Progress made in transplanting pig hearts into baboons

December 6, 2018
A large team of researchers from several institutions in Germany, Sweden, Switzerland and the U.S. has transplanted pig hearts into baboons and kept them alive for an extended period of time. In their paper published in the ...

'Chemo brain' caused by malfunction in three types of brain cells, study finds

December 6, 2018
More than half of cancer survivors suffer from cognitive impairment from chemotherapy that lingers for months or years after the cancer is gone. In a new study explaining the cellular mechanisms behind this condition, scientists ...

Hybrid prevalence estimation: Method to improve intervention coverage estimations

December 6, 2018
LSTM's Professor Joseph Valadez is senior author on a new study published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, which outlines proposals for a more accurate estimator of health data.

Are scientists studying the wrong kind of mice?

December 5, 2018
Mice represent well over half of the non-human subjects of biomedical research, and the vast majority of those mice are inbred. Formed by generation after generation of mating between brothers and sisters, inbred mice are ...

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.