I used to be a professional translator, which is a big help when I try to make sense of what frequently looks like gobbledygook in scientific/medical articles. However, I didn’t need any translating skills to read Terri Michell’s clear report on the anti-cancer effects of curcumin (see link here on my homepage). Thanks to her, I became interested in kinases, which, she writes, are like phone lines that run right into the DNA of cancer cells, carrying grow signals. Easy! Compare that to the Wikipedia definition: in biochemistry, a kinase is a type of enzyme that transfers phosphate groups from high-energy donor molecules, such as ATP, to specific target molecules (substrates); the process is termed phosphorylation. Uh huh. Right.
Terri Mitchell reports that there are over 2000 known protein kinases. Curcumin inhibits several of them, an ability it shares with other phytochemicals including silymarin (from milk thistle), apigenin (from parsley and celery), hypericin (commonly known as St. John’s wort) and EGCG (from green tea), just to mention a few. As far as MM is concerned, a kinase called IKK plays an important role in the activation of NF-kB, a crucial transcription factor (inhibited by curcumin) that I have discussed in previous posts. And the name of an IKK inhibitor? Yes, curcumin again! See this 2003 “Blood” study: http://tinyurl.com/ypc7o7
When curcumin is used to cut kinase phone lines, some types of cancer cells stop growing. Of utmost interest to us MMers is that curcumin causes MM cells to self-destruct (through a process called apoptosis). Poof!, and they are gone. Like magic…(said like a true Harry Potter fan)…There are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of online studies concerning kinases and curcumin. It would be impossible to list or read them all. There are also thousands of studies on kinase inhibitors and cancer: a hot topic, clearly.
Back to Terri Mitchell, who ends her report with these remarks: The actions of curcumin have been the subject of presentations at major meetings on cancer research, and the object of study by researchers at the most prestigious universities in the world. If curcumin were a drug, it would be hailed as one of the best all-around cancer drugs ever invented. As it is, it’s a phytochemical with impeccable credentials, thousands of years of use behind it, and a very small price tag. No wonder a host of drug companies want to imitate it.