O animal grazioso e benigno, che visitando vai per l’aere perso

Siede la terra dove nata fui
su la marina dove ‘l Po discende
per aver pace co’ seguaci sui.
Amor, ch’al cor gentil ratto s’apprende
prese costui de la bella persona
che mi fu tolta; e ‘l modo ancor m’offende.
Amor, ch’a nullo amato amar perdona,
mi prese del costui piacer sรฌ forte,
che, come vedi, ancor non m’abbandona.
Amor condusse noi ad una morte:
Caina attende chi a vita ci spense.

Totally off-topic today. Sometimes we need that. Or I do, at least! ๐Ÿ˜‰

A while ago I read online that Roberto Benigni, an Italian actor and film director, is the equivalent of a double shot of espresso coffee. I agree. Some of you may remember him excitedly jumping onto the backs of seats during the 1999 Academy Award ceremony after his La vita รƒฦ’ร‚ยจ bella, or Life is beautiful won three Oscars. Deservedly so, in my opinion.

Anyway, I am writing about Benigni because yesterday evening he put on an extraordinary one-man show on TV (Rai Uno, one of the Italian state channels). Absolutely brilliant. After a bit of contemporary political satire, Benigni, using his unique expressive communication style, launched into a passionate and eloquent explanation of the Divine Comedy’s 5th Canto. For two and a half hours, he barely stopped to take a breath. Fantastico. I was glued to the screen. Verse by verse, at times word by word, Benigni described every detail of this famous Canto, which centers on the tragic story of two lovers, Paolo Malatesta and Francesca da Rimini. He put into plain language the most intricate and difficult passages and concepts, at times drawing on current Italian social and political events to make his point more clearly. Keep in mind that Dante Alighieri wrote the Divine Comedy in vernacular Italian at the beginning of the 14th century, so this wasn’t as easy as it sounds.

I would like to note that I went through the Italian public school system (yep, I am one of those odd bilingual creatures), where I studied Dante’s Divine Comedy. I also examined each and every verse while doing research for my Ph.D. thesis (don’t ask! ๐Ÿ˜‰ ). My interest, however, has always been superficial…related to schoolwork. But yesterday evening Benigni infected me with his fervour. I want to reread the Divine Comedy.

Benigni ended his performance by reciting the entire 5th Canto from memory. Now, I am no lover of poetry, but this final part brought tears to my eyes. Benigni’s declamation came from the gut, it had feeling, it had passion. Last year, for his interpretation of Dante, Benigni was nominated for the Nobel prize in literature. He didn’t win, but in my opinion, he should have. Grazie, Roberto!

Peekaboo Update, New (Cancer) Stem Cell Clinical Trial And Another Good Reason To Take Curcumin

Peekaboo came home yesterday and is doing well. I went to pick her up at the vet’s at 5 PM. I had to keep her separated from the other cats until this morning so I put her in my parents’ room. She was not very steady on her feet and kept bumping into things (the litter box, the furniture ). I stayed with her until Stefano got home, then we took turns eating dinner so that one of us could be with her (we tried to leave her alone, but she howled). I know, only big-time cat lovers will understand this! ๐Ÿ™‚ I spent the night in my parents’ room with Peekaboo, and Stefano slept with the other cats in our room. We have so rarely slept apart in all the years we have been together so, yes, last night was very odd. Anyway, Peekaboo was very happy to be home, nestled in my lap all evening, purring like mad and batting her blue eyes at me. She even did something she has never done before: she kneaded my legs. Cutie pie. This morning she isn’t jumping around like she normally does, but she seems just fine. A bit subdued, that’s all. To be expected.

I have a ton of things to post about, lots of news, but new things keep popping up in my e-mail box just as I think I have finished doing all my research and writing. Aaargh! So I have more reading to do today. In the meantime, I will post about a new clinical trial: http://tinyurl.com/2ap4k8 Yesterday the Geron Corporation announced that it has enrolled the first myeloma patient in its GRN163L clinical trial. GRN163L is a novel inhibitor of telomerase, an enzyme that is expressed in all major types of cancer cells. This enzyme is essential for malignant cell growth and is absent or expressed transiently at low levels in most normal adult tissues. The most interesting aspect of this trial, however, as a MMA list member pointed out yesterday, is that GRN163L has been shown to target cancer STEM cells. Just like DMAPT (from parthenolide or feverfew). Now, if we can get rid of cancer stem cells, the ones that are resistant to conventional treatments and that cause cancer (myeloma, too, of course) to recur well, let’s just digest the implications of THAT statement…! ๐Ÿ™‚

Today another MMA list member posted about a study in this month’s issue of “Blood” discussing how the Notch signaling pathway, a new one to me!, protects myeloma cells from apoptosis (death). You can read the abstract here: http://tinyurl.com/ysv9gg Well, I immediately, as usual!, googled Notch signaling and curcumin, and to my surprise (I wonder WHY I am still surprised…!), I found that, yes, apparently curcumin inhibits this signaling pathway (important, by the way, for cell to cell communication), see this 2006 abstract on pancreatic cancer cells in vitro: http://tinyurl.com/2cjgpr See also this December 2007 abstract on leukaemic cells: http://tinyurl.com/2hp5z2 I don’t have time to do more research on Notch and curcumin today (busy in other fields…), but it’s always good to come across another good reason to be taking the orange powder! Yeah!

Spaying, Teaching, Celebrating…

Peekaboo looking outside our bedroom windowTomorrow I am taking Peekaboo to the vet to be spayed. I hate to put her through the trauma, but there is no help for it. So I am a bit distracted, well, even a bit distraught, right now. I know that this is for her own good, and the others are spayed/neutered, too, but I just want it to be all over, and have her back safe and sound with me. I took a few photos of her sweet trusting little face earlier this afternoon, as though she will look at me differently from now on, with mistrust or even hatred! I know, I know, I am being silly. But it was an excuse to take lots of photos. This one is my favourite.

Change of subject. Today, as I was driving home from work, I thought about how much I have come to love my students. They are sooo entertaining. In fact, I am beginning to suspect that at least a couple of them must have attended drama school at some point in the past. Their funny nonverbal communication skills include comical faces, animated gesticulation, rapid speech (usually in Italian, as much as I try to forbid it!)…in short, everything you would expect from the stereotypical image of an excited Italian. And more! When one of my students makes a mistake, she rolls her eyes and flails her arms about, finally throwing her head down on the table (with an audible bonk!). Another screws up her face in pretend agony, then bursts into peals of infectious laughter. I should really start taking notes (or making videos!) for my upcoming bestselling book titled “Laughing English.” ๐Ÿ˜‰

I thought that my intermediate English students would be happy today at the news that I wanted to tell them a joke (mostly in the past tense, which is what we are studying at the moment) instead of doing grammar. A joke versus grammar? Where’s the competition? But, oh no, they began protesting loudly that they couldn’t understand jokes even in Italian (yeah, likely story!). Silly beans! I mean, I had to CONVINCE them to listen to the joke! In the end, they did understand it (one of my blog jokes, actually), including the irregular forms of the past tense, AND they liked it. ๐Ÿ™‚ Yes, it was a fun lesson. We all enjoyed it.

Last but certainly NOT least, Stefano got some excellent news today regarding his job. YIPPEEEEEE!!! I can’t wait for him to get home and tell me all the details. Fidget fidget…fidget! We have some celebrating to do later this evening. Oh, if only I weren’t taking my baby to the vet tomorrow morning…!!! ๐Ÿ™

Bioavailability of Curcumin Study, Chapter Two

As promised, here is the chapter on glucuronidation. ๐Ÿ˜‰ First, what IS it? According to Wikipedia, Glucuronidation, the conversion of chemical compounds to glucuronides, is a method that organisms use to assist in the excretion of substances that cannot be used as an energy source. Glucuronic acid is attached via a glycosidic bond with the substance, and the resulting glucuronide, which has a much higher water solubility than the original substance, is eventually excreted by the kidneys. So glucuronidation is used by the body usually to get rid of toxic substances.

What happens once we have swallowed curcumin? A blog reader has already explained this process to us, but let’s have a look at what the MD Anderson researchers write: Once absorbed, curcumin is subjected to conjugations like sulfation and glucuronidation at various tissue sites. They discuss a study published in Life Sciences in 2000 (abstract: http://tinyurl.com/3ybfhm): in rats, it would appear that orally administered curcumin is absorbed from the alimentary tract and present in the general blood circulation after largely being metabolized to the form of glucuronide/sulfate conjugates. Curcumin sulfate and curcumin glucuronide were identified in the colorectal tissue of colorectal cancer patients who ingested curcumin capsules. Metabolites, by the way, are substances produced during digestion. Okay, so once ingested, curcumin is transformed into these metabolites. But are these substances completely useless as far as cancer patients are concerned?

On page 7 we read the following: Whether curcumin metabolites are as active as curcumin itself is, unfortunately, not clear. While most studies indicate that curcumin glucuronides and THC are less active than curcumin itself, there are other studies which suggest that they may actually be more active than curcumin. THC is tetrahydrocurcumin, one of the major metabolites of curcumin. The section on curcumin metabolites concludes: “The lack of availability of curcumin glucuronides and related compounds contributes to a continued lack of clear understanding of the relative pharmacologic activities of observed curucmin metabolites.” So we don’t have a clear answer. Yet.

Are there ways of addressing all of the problems dealing with poor absorption, rapid metabolism and elimination? Sure there are! The MD Anderson team suggests that Nanoparticles, liposomes, micelles, and phospholipid complexes are other promising novel formulations, which appear to provide longer circulation, better permeability, and resistance to metabolic processes. So, no doldrums! (I like that word…)

The researchers examine studies on piperine, a known inhibitor of hepatic and intestinal glucuronidation. According to a 1998 study published in Planta Medica (abstract: http://tinyurl.com/2eb84u), in humans receiving a dose of 2 g curcumin alone, serum levels were either undetectable or very low. Concomitant administration of piperine, however, produced 2000% increase in bioavailability. Conclusion: The glucuronidation inhibiting effect of piperine and the established lesser activity of curcumin glucorinides will indicate that inhibition of glucuronidation by piperine may be the major mechanism by which it increases the bioavailability of curcumin.

Quercetin is also mentioned. Yippeeeee! (I am already taking it, you see ๐Ÿ˜‰ ). In a clinical study published in 2006, five familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) patients with prior colectomy received curcumin (480 mg) and quercetin (20 mg) orally three times a day. The polyps decreased in number and size (60.4% and 50.9%, respectively) after approximately six months. See full study: http://tinyurl.com/3b46wd

Okay, all of this may sound discouraging, but it really isn’t, in my view. Of course, it’s also true that I don’t get discouraged easily! ๐Ÿ˜‰ Seriously, though, in my opinion there are ways we can make curcumin more bioavailable. Some methods may work better for some of us, but the important thing is that those methods EXIST. On this topic…have a look at what this 2005 Clinical Cancer Research study (full study: http://tinyurl.com/2cugub) on head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) has to report: In the nude mice studies, we compared two different methods of delivery of curcumin: intratumoral injection and topical application of the curcumin paste onto the tumor. To our knowledge, we are the first to attempt in vivo studies using curcumin paste in nude mice. Use of this method of delivery could overcome the problem of low bioavailability encountered in studies of oral curcumin in colorectal and other cancers in mice and in humans. Now, ok, this method wouldn’t work with myeloma (but couldn’t curcumin be injected right into plasmacytomas?), but it sounds promising for solid tumour cancers and of course skin cancer. As you know, I have tested a few bioavailability methods on myself: some worked, some didn’t, and I am awaiting the results from my most recent tests so the jury is still out on my most recent experiment. A few days ago, though, Stefano suggested that I quit experimenting and start focusing instead on the methods that have already worked for me. He’s right. Besides, if my IgG level goes up anymore, I will have to adopt Don’s kitchen sink approach!

There is more food for thought in the MD Anderson study, but I need a change, so I will work on something different now. Speaking of working, drat, I still have to prepare my classes for tomorrow! YIKES! Ciao!

Bioavailability of Curcumin Study: Chapter One

In my November 22nd post, I mentioned a newly published MD Anderson study, co-authored by Prof. Aggarwal (abstract: http://tinyurl.com/35w4mn). Thanks to Sherlock (grazie mille!), I was able to read the full study, which I have read but must read again, as it is filled with so many significant details etc. My original post turned out to be too long, so I will divide it into chapters, at least two.

Titled Bioavailability of Curcumin: Problems and Promises, the study was published in the November 14th issue of Molecular Pharmaceutics. It begins with an overview of curcumin, which, as we know by now, has been shown to exhibit antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and anticarcinogenic activities. Additionally, the hepato- and nephro-protective, thrombosis supressing, myocardial infarction protective, hypoglycemic, and antirheumatic effects of curcumin are also well established. Even at high doses, up to 12 grams a day, curcumin is well tolerated. I know I have written all this before, but I think it’s good to go over known information sometimes.

Curcumin’s main problem, as we (again!) know, is bioavailability: studies over the past three decades related to absorption, distribution, metabolism and excretion of curcumin have revealed poor absorption and rapid metabolism of curcumin that severely curtails its bioavailability. The serum levels of curcumin are extremely low. Let us keep in mind, though, that the UK Phase I Clinical Trial of Oral Curcumin (full study: http://tinyurl.com/32kwok), which tested regular curcumin (C3 Complex without bioperine) on patients with advanced colorectal cancer, ends with the following statement: The findings of the study presented here lead us to conclude that the systemic pharmacological properties of a daily dose of 3.6 g of curcumin are suitable for its evaluation in the prevention of malignancies at sites other than the gastrointestinal tract. 3.6 grams. Very little, compared to the 8 grams that I am taking. This Phase I clinical trial in fact showed that consumption of 3.6 g of curcumin daily generates detectable levels of parent compound and conjugates in plasma and urine, where the parent compound was curcumin, of course. The study contains headache-causing (for a non-scientific brain!) amounts of details, but, unless I am much mistaken, a few are lacking, which I would be curious to know, for instance: 1. what time of day was curcumin taken by the patients and 2. did they take it on a full or empty stomach?

Speaking of time of day, as I was reading through the description of all the studies cited by the MD Anderson team, a BIG question popped into my head. Relevant or not, here it is. Remember my November 11th post on circadian rhythms, in particular the part about human versus rat testing? Well, here’s a memory refresher: Despite this evidence of variation, drug research is almost always done during daylight hours, when the humans leading the studies are awake and alert. And in the animal testing stage, it’s almost always done with mice and rats, which are nocturnal รขโ€šยฌ”the middle of our day is the middle of their night. This can lead to gross misestimations of the effectiveness and toxicity of a drug intended for humans. My question: could circadian rhythms possibly affect the curcumin testing being conducted on mice and rats? And what about the curcumin testing on humans? What if these tests were conducted at different times of the day and night? Would there be differences in the results? My feeling is that there would be. Take a look at this sentence in the MD Anderson study: the serum levels of curcumin in rats and in human are not directly comparable. Hmmm. Well, okay, that makes sense on all sorts of levels, of course, even though I enjoy a bite of cheese probably as much as a mouse does ๐Ÿ˜‰ , BUT could this divergence also be due, at least in part, to daylight testing on nocturnal animals? Another point. We don’t know what time of day or under what circumstances the human subjects in these trials took their dose of curcumin. And, for instance, we are informed that some folks developed diarrhea but others didn’t. Did both groups take curcumin at the same time? All this information would indeed be interesting to have. Okay, I realize that I’m in over my head here, and that my suspicions may turn out to be irrelevant rubbish. I must read the MD Anderson study again, and look up all the studies, one by one (yeah, that’s likely to happen… ๐Ÿ˜‰ ). Ok, enough about circadian rhythms.

The MD Anderson researchers point out that the issue of curcumin levels found in body tissues has been relatively ignored. Interesting, I thought. One of the few studies dealing with body tissues dates to 1980 (abstract: http://tinyurl.com/3a93ko). I quote from the MD Anderson study: after oral administration of 400 mg of curcumin to rats only traces of unchanged drug were found in the liver and kidney. At 30 min, 90% of curcumin was found in the stomach and small intestine, but only 1% was present at 24 h. The team points out also that Although many curcumin analogues are found to show improved biological activity over curcumin, specific evaluations of structural analogues and/or derivatives of curcumin to show improved tissue and plasma distribution are lacking. More studies are needed!

There is lots more, including mentions of substances we can take to enhance the bioavailability of curcumin and novel bioavailability methods, some of which I have mentioned in previous posts. But this post is getting to be too long, so I will stop here for now. In chapter two, I will discuss glucuronidation! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Statistics According To A Roman Poet: Eating Two Chickens…

Last night I told Stefano about the Science Daily article and the paragraph that I quoted in my blog post yesterday, the one about the three to four year survival statistic, which is such hogwash (my opinion). He quoted a sonnet about statistics written by the Roman satirical poet Trilussa (real name: Carlo Alberto Salustri, 1871-1950). This morning I looked it up and thought it contained some interesting material, so here it is (my curcumin bioavailability post is ready, I will post it tomorrow). Trilussa’s sonnet, by the way, is not written in standard Italian but in the dialect of Rome (for which this dialect poet is famous, in fact). I will provide a rough translation, don’t worry!

Sai ched’รจ la statistica? E’ ‘na cosa
che serve pe’ fa’ un conto in generale
de la gente che nasce, che sta male,
che more, che va in carcere e che sposa.
Ma pe’ me la statistica curiosa
รจย dove c’entra la percentuale,
pe’ via che, lรฌ, la mediaย รจ sempre eguale
puro co’ la persona bisognosa.
Me spiego, da li conti che se fanno
seconno le statistiche d’adesso
risurta che te tocca un pollo all’anno:
e, se nun entra ne le spese tue,
t’entra ne la statistica lo stesso
perchรฉ c’รจ un antro che se ne magna due.

This translates roughly (If I made a mistake, please correct me!) as: You know what statistics is? It’s something you use to make a general count of the people who were born, who get ill, who die, who go to jail, who get married. But for me the peculiar statistic is the one dealing with percentages, because then the mean always remain the same for everyone, even for someone who has nothing. Let me explain, from the way they count in statistics nowadays, it appears that you eat one chicken per year: and, even if you can’t afford to buy a chicken, you are part of the statistic anyway, because there is someone else who eats two chickens.”

I am not a statistician, far from it, but if my interpretation is correct, according to statistics if one person doesn’t eat a chicken but another eats two chickens, as in the example, that doesn’t mean that they have eaten one chicken apiece, which would be absurd. It simply means that ON AVERAGE the two people in question have eaten a chicken. “What’s the difference?, the end result is still the same,” you might argue, “that is, one of the two went hungry.” Okay, we’d have to ask an expert to deal with this issue any further. My point is another, though, and it’s not to demean the importance of statistics, which must take no notice of the individual in order to describe an entire population (etc.).

Trilussa’s assessment, in my opinion, has a lot of relevance for cancer patients. If I am still alive ten years or more (eh!!!) after my diagnosis, that three to four year Science Daily sentence is completely irrelevant…as far as I am concerned, naturalmente. So while I understand why we need statistics blablabla, I also think that survival percentages in particular can really freak out newly diagnosed patients. Unnecessarily so, in some cases. A few years ago, when I was still MGUS, I read heaps of statistics concerning myeloma and wasn’t too thrilled, to put it mildly. Who would be? But now I understand that there are simply too many variables in a population of cancer patients: age, stage of disease, even attitude (and now, as we just found out, HORMONE STRESS LEVELS!), etc. So I focus on the individual. Oh, and in this case, that would be yours truly, I suppose! ๐Ÿ˜‰ My final bit of advice: ignore survival statistics and focus on your own healing!

The Impact of Stress Hormones On Multiple Myeloma

Thanks to my fantastic friend Sherlock ๐Ÿ˜‰ , I received a (complete) copy of the recently-published MD Anderson study on the bioavailability of curcumin, the one I mentioned yesterday in my EF24 post. I have been working on it off and on today but still have some figuring out to do. I should be able to post part of my interpretation tomorrow.

In the meantime, I would like to mention that Beth’s Myeloma Blog and Laughing Plasma Cells have reports on a new study on stress hormones and their effects (not good ones, as was to be expected…) on multiple myeloma. You can go to their blogs (see links on the right-hand side of your monitor) and also to this link, which will take you straight to the Science Daily story: http://tinyurl.com/2fd9ty I would like to highlight this paragraph: “In this latest study, the researchers looked at a different type of cancer รขโ€šยฌ” multiple myeloma. One of several types of cancers of the blood, multiple myeloma strikes nearly 20,000 Americans each year, killing at least half that many annually. Patients diagnosed with this disease normally survive only three to four years with conventional treatments.” Well, thinking about those three to four years will certainly help lower our stress hormone levels…

All joshing aside, this study does give us even more of an incentive to get rid of the stress in our lives and laugh ourselves silly at least twice a day…if possible, of course. Interesting read. And it reminded me that I really must put together a post on how stress affects our IL-6 levels. Wait, it’s dinnertime ALREADY?!!! How did THAT happen??? Stress, stress, stress! Gasp! ๐Ÿ˜‰ Okay, off I go, silly me, see y’all tomorrow!

EF24 Analogue, Curcumin Bioavailability Issue and Miscellaneous Rambles…

This is my post number 200! WOW! ๐Ÿ™‚ But, even more incredible, according to my blog stats, my blog readers have left me 457 comments. Thank you all so so much.

Thanks also for all the private and public get well wishes. In fact, I feel much better today, and the positive thing about this bug is that it attacked my stomach, not my lungs (my weak spot). And that means: no antibiotics! Yippee! So I am back to doing research today. And laundry. ๐Ÿ™

Blog readers’ questions. Laughing Plasma Cells (hi!), the vaccine I had was the inactive type. I made sure of that. In fact, on Tuesday I obliged my long-suffering ๐Ÿ˜‰ GP to read the entire list of ingredients on the box before I let him administer the vaccine. I also wanted to make sure it contained no mercury, in accordance with recent European regulations. It didn’t. I had the vaccine.

Sue’s question: I have not heard about the yucca studies (sounds interesting). I have instead heard about Turmericforce, made by “New Chapter,” but it has such a low percentage of curcuminoids that I cannot say if it would work or not, even at a high dosage. I would like to add that I do like New Chapter and am going to try its Zyflamend and Scutellaria Baicalensis. Let’s see, I have tried both curcumin capsules AND powder (mixed in fat). Not sure if I can say which works better at this point. The only thing I CAN say for sure is that curcumin capsules withOUT bioperine didn’t work for me. That doesn’t mean that they won’t work for other folks, of course, since we all react differently to the same exact substance. Curcumin capsules WITH bioperine kept me stable. So, you ask a tough question. Don (Myeloma Hope blog, see link on this page) took thalidomide, then curcumin, then adopted the very tempting (to me) kitchen sink approach. You might go to his blog and ask him the same question. If only I had all the answers…!!! Some day…perhaps!

My blog reader Donna wrote me a private message, telling me I could share her good news, which is that her numbers have improved. She writes: “My IgG went from 637 to 669, IgA from 23 to 26, and IgM from 12 to 13! Although these are not drastic changes, at least they are going in the right direction…for a change!” She has added super Bio-Curcumin and quercetin to her intake this month. Go, Donna! ๐Ÿ™‚

Important note for UK chocoholics. Dora informed me of a new product called Choxi (you can google it for more info) made by the Queen’s chocolatiers (how about that?). It’s been flying off the shelves, but she informed me that you can order it directly from the manufacturers, too. Thanks, Dora. I’ll be looking for some Italian Choxi…

Curcumin bioavailability is a huge issue, which seems to be in the forefront of research on curcumin. Prof. Aggarwal, head of the curcumin research team at MD Anderson in Texas, recently co-authored a study (abstract: http://tinyurl.com/35w4mn) published in Molecular Pharmaceutics (November 2007) on this very topic. The abstract tells us that Major reasons contributing to the low plasma and tissue levels of curcumin appear to be due to poor absorption, rapid metabolism, and rapid systemic elimination. To improve the bioavailability of curcumin, numerous approaches have been undertaken. These approaches involve, first, the use of adjuvant like piperine that interferes with glucuronidation; second, the use of liposomal curcumin; third, curcumin nanoparticles; fourth, the use of curcumin phospholipid complex; and fifth, the use of structural analogues of curcumin (e.g., EF-24). I will probably, at some point, be able to read the full study, and will provide a full report here. I hope, soon.

Before I go on, I should mention that the proposal that my friend Ana and I become curcumin lab mice has failed. The fantastic Italian urologist who uses and studies and writes about curcumin told me it would be quite impossible. I knew it would be difficult, but doesn’t the saying go “if you don’t try, you will never know”? Precisely. So I tried. Well, that chapter is closed for now, at any rate.

Curcumin EF24 analogue. The same doctor told me about EF24, the above-mentioned synthetic analogue. According to a study published in 2005 in Anticancer Drugs (abstract: http://tinyurl.com/3acjyc), EF24 was found to be effective against breast and prostate cancer cells. Effective against, meaning EF24 induced apoptosis in those cells. Apoptosis! Yeah! Thanks again to my friend Sherlock (grazie!), I was able to read the full study. Nearly 100 curcumin analogues were studied and tested for their anticancer and anti-angiogenesis properties. EF24 emerged as the most active one. Compared to regular curcumin, EF24 showed a 2- to 10-fold increase in cytotoxic activity. According to the study, it effectively penetrates and induces apoptosis in cultured human breast and prostate cancer cells.

A more recent study, published in September 2007 in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, examines the anticancer effect of EF24 on cisplatin-resistant human ovarian cancer cells. It induces G2/M arrest and apoptosis in those cells, as you can read in the abstract: http://tinyurl.com/2csz63. It increases the levels of the tumour-suppressing protein p53. The acronym mentioned in the title, PTEN, is a gene that is essential for the creation of a tumour-suppressing protein. By the way, if you ever have to look up a gene and its functions, here’s a good place to start, methinks: http://tinyurl.com/2y9yea This link will take you to information specifically about the PTEN gene, but you can do searches on any other types of genes, such as p53. Anyway, the point is that EF24 increased the activity of PTEN.

I didn’t find any studies on EF24 and myeloma. Too bad. In the next few days, I will check out two more recent curcumin analogues and see if they have been tested against myeloma cells.


Well, so much for doing research or much of anything else today. Yesterday after work I went to get vaccinated against the flu, and by early evening I had developed a terrific headache. Then I became nauseous…and will let you imagine the rest. Mamma mia! Suffice it to say that I still felt icky enough to call my doctor this morning, thinking that I could have had a reaction to the vaccine, but he told me it sounded more like a viral thingie that is going around Florence and should last no more than 24 hours. Oh well, no biggie, then. I might have picked up this bug at Careggi hospital on Monday. Or perhaps even before then…drat, I hope it won’t interfere with my test results.

Anyway, even though by now (midday) I do feel better, I am going to stay in bed and watch movies and documentaries until Stefano gets home from work. Speaking of staying in bed, this morning three of my nursing cats were lying on me: Piccolo (all eight kilos of him!) on my chest, with his paws wrapped around my neck, purring loudly and batting his eyes reassuringly at me; little Peekaboo just behind him, purring on my abdomen, and Priscilla asleep on my legs. Now that would have been a great photo! But of course there was nobody here to take it.

Anyway, tomorrow I will be fine. This is just a little bug.

Long Day At Work

ย Peekaboo mid November 2007Peekaboo mid November 2007Peekaboo mid November 2007Peekaboo mid November 2007Long day at work today, so I am pooped. Too pooped to be of any use whatsoever to the blog. Tomorrow I WILL finish and post at least one of my research pieces, though.

Thanks for the surgical mask suggestions. I don’t like to call attention to myself in public, but I might try that as an experiment IF my friend Ana wears one, too (se va bene a te, va bene pure a me!).