Turmeric, known as Haldi in Indian homes, is the ubiquitous kitchen spice that gives curry its yellow colour. Turmeric has been used in India for thousands of years as a spice and even used as medicinal herb because of its powerful anti-inflammatory and strong antioxidant property.
It was recently found in a scientific research that Curcumin, the active ingredient of Turmeric, can kill cancer cells. A team of Indian-American researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) and at the University of Utah at Salt Lake City, has used an indigenious process to enable curcumin to cure cancer.
Curcumin is also known to exhibit anti-cancer properties, but its poor solubility in water had impeded curcumin’s clinical application in cancer. However, a team headed by Dipanjan Pan, associate professor of bioengineering at UIUC, has now found a way out.
Because platinum is a commonly used cancer therapeutic agent in the clinic, the researchers decided to experiment with a drug consisting of a combination of platinum and curcumin.
“It is a combination of clever chemistry and nano-precipitation utilising host-guest chemistry,” Pan explained. “The sophisticated chemistry leads to a self-assembled hierarchical structure that drives the solubility of curcumin and simultaneously delivers an additional anticancer agent, i.e. platinum. The combined therapeutic effect — of curcumin and platinum — is lethal for the cancer cells.”
According to the reports post experiment, it emerged that the metallocyclic complex created using platinum not only enabled curcumin’s solubility but proved to be 100 times more effective in treating various cancer types such as melanoma and breast cancer cells than using curcumin and platinum agents separately.