Friday, September 18, 2009

Cancer Watch: Curcumin (Curry) and Cancer Cells

(Link to this article:

One of my research interests is Cancer dynamics. I have done (and still doing) research on cancer informatics (including modeling and simulation) together with my students at Ateneo de Manila University.

Today (9/19/09), I read an article by Ms. Tessa Salazar in the Philippine Daily Inquirer titled, " ‘Luyang dilaw’ kills tumor cells—scientists. " In English, "luyang dilaw" literally means "yellow ginger" and in scientific lingo it is known by the name "Curcuma longa Linn" .

Yellow ginger contains "curcumin" or "turmeric" or "curry" -- an ingredient used in many Indian dishes.

Below is the link to the article:

The Inquirer article mentioned that curcumin has anti-inflammatory capability.

I also learned from the Inquirer article that in a recent study published at the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists journal titled “Curcumin and Cancer Cells: How Many Ways Can Curry Kill Tumor Cells Selectively?” by Jayaraj Ravindran, Sahdeo Prasad and Bharat B. Aggarwal, curcumin was shown to have “killed” tumor cells.

The abstract of the paper by Ravindran et al. stated: “We show that curcumin modulates growth of tumor cells through regulation of multiple cell signaling pathways including cell proliferation pathway (cyclin D1, c-myc), cell survival pathway (Bcl-2, Bcl-xL, cFLIP, XIAP, c-IAP1), caspase activation pathway (caspase-8, 3, 9), tumor suppressor pathway (p53, p21), death receptor pathway (DR4, DR5), mitochondrial pathways and protein kinase pathway (JNK, Akt and AMPK).”

According to Ms. Salazar, the study described, in detail, how curcumin selectively kills tumor cells, and leaves normal cells untouched.

As a modeler, I am interested to investigate the biophysics and/or systems biology of this phenomenon and to come up with a mathematical or computational model that can be used for simulations.

Raffy Saldaña

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