Could the creation of curcumin analogues to increase systemic availability be a possibility for the future?
An Indian company called Arjuna has developed a product called Biocurcumax, which mixes curcumin with an essential oil of turmeric (*UPDATE: I tried it in the winter of 2007 and my numbers worsened; so did Sherlock’s. It didn’t work for us, unfortunately). It is supposed to enhance the bioavailability of curcumin. The news about Biocurcumax was published in the online edition of India’s national newspaper, the “Hindu,” in September of 2006: http://tinyurl.com/ysgxcv
A Japanese study identified “new analogues that exhibit growth-suppressive activity 30 times that of curcumin and other commonly used anticancer drugs.” These analogues also had no toxicity in vivo. The study was published in “Molecular Cancer Therapeutics” in 2006: http://tinyurl.com/26b3v3
Another curcumin analogue, called dimethoxycurcumin, appears to be more stable and more potent in killing cancer cells. This study can be found in the February 2007 edition of “Clinical Cancer Research”: http://tinyurl.com/37mh7x
These are only a few of the studies that I have read online. I am not entirely sure how I feel about analogues. For now and the foreseeable future, I will continue to take curcumin with some sort of fat.
Nanocurcumin. A group of researchers from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the University of Delhi have created a nano-encapsulated form of curcumin, “nanocurcumin!,” which can be readily dispersed in aqueous media. This might overcome the problem of curcumin’s poor systemic bioavailability. It has already been tested in vitro on pancreatic cancer cells and has showed the same degree of effectiveness as regular curcumin, such as inhibition of NF-kB and downregulation of IL-6. Indeed, according to preliminary tests, pancreatic cancer cells lapped up this new form of curcumin more eagerly than regular curcumin. Nanocurcumin was also given to mice, and no ill effects were reported. See http://tinyurl.com/3x23gk for more information. Also, have a look at the April 20 2007 news release from Johns Hopkins University, titled: “Polymer Coated Curcumin Promises Effective Against Cancer.”(http://tinyurl.com/2tj85d)
April 6 2008 post, update on nanotechnology: This morning I read a couple of Science Daily updates where I found two conflicting items. The first (http://tinyurl.com/5p4lzn), dated April 3, was about the potential risks involved in nanotechnology. The Science Daily article discusses a University of Oregon chemist’s concern about the potential hazards and lack of information concerning nanotechnology.
April 10 2008 post, update on nanotechnology: I just finished reading a rather alarming April 7 Science Daily article (see: http://tinyurl.com/4s5zoh) on “toxic socks.” These are special socks permeated with nanoparticle silver, which has antibacterial and odour-fighting properties.
An excerpt (“he” is the UO chemist, by the way): Nanomaterials are complex, as are their interactions with biological organisms and the environment. While microscopically sized, they come in all sizes, shapes and compositions. “To confound the situation further,” he writes, “the methods of production are still immature for most materials, often resulting in batch-to-batch variability in composition and purity.” Impurities, he says, are hard to detect, difficult to extract and may obscure the real effects of nanomaterials. Nanoimpurities? Yikes!
Interestingly, this scientist is pushing for a green chemistry approach, which simplifies purification processes. Well, I am certainly all in favour of solving problems before they occur, and using an environmentally friendly approach makes a lot of sense to me.
Now for the second article. published on the following day (http://tinyurl.com/6qzpmv). It discusses the effect of nanotechnology on tumours. Unlike the University of Oregon piece, this article talks exclusively about the benefits of nanotechnology. As follows.
A group of researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine (St. Louis) tested a powerful drug directly on tumors in rabbits (aaagh! ) using drug-coated nanoparticles. They found that a drug dose 1,000 times lower than used previously for this purpose markedly slowed tumor growth. “Many chemotherapeutic drugs have unwanted side effects, and we’ve shown that our nanoparticle technology has the potential to increase drug effectiveness and decrease drug dose to alleviate harmful side effects,” says lead author Patrick M. Winter, Ph.D., research assistant professor of medicine and biomedical engineering.
By the way, these nanoparticles contained a fungal toxin called fumagillin, which has been shown to be an effective cancer treatment, so the article states, in human clinical trials in combination with other drugs. The process whereby the tumours’ growth was slowed down is interesting: the nanoparticles latched on to sites of blood vessel proliferation and released their fumagillin load into blood vessel cells. Fumagillin blocks multiplication of blood vessel cells, so it inhibited tumors from expanding their blood supply and slowed their growth.
Aha, so fumagillin inhibits angiogenesis…very interesting. I will have to have a closer look at this toxin at some point.
Well, nanotechnology is interesting on many levels, but I have to admit that the issue of nanocrud (I just coined this term, you may use it with my permission…) does make me wary. I guess I won’t be testing nanocurcumin any time soon…
Curcumin analogues have been shown to inhibit the COX-1 enzyme, which is linked to inflammation and cancer. This process is described in the study titled Synthesis of novel curcumin analogues and their evaluation as selective cyclooxygenase-1 (COX-1) inhibitors, published in the Chemical and Pharmaceutical Bulletin in January, 2007: http://tinyurl.com/2lwuzh
April 21 2008 post: This morning I read something that I did not know about curcumin in the “Times of India” (http://tinyurl.com/4tyq5v): Researchers at New Delhi’s Jamia Hamdard University have successfully used curcumin – extracted from turmeric and broken into nano form – to control and cure cirrhosis of liver in an animal model experiment. “Nano,” huh? How “nano” were these nanoparticles, I wonder? Well, even though the jury is still out on the nano-stuff, in this case the nanocurcumin appears to have worked. Interesting.