~ Curcumin Combats Melanoma

The August 15, 2005 issue of the American Cancer Society journal Cancer (http://www.interscience.wiley.com/cancer), published a report showing that the yellow pigment found in the spice turmeric known as curcumin inhibits melanoma cell growth and stimulates tumor cell death in cell cultures.

Curcumin has been demonstrated to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory abilities, and research is revealing anticancer properties against a variety of tumor cell lines.

Melanoma is a cancer characterized by the abnormal proliferation of melanocytes. The disease exhibits a resistance to a number of chemotherapeutic drug once it has spread, resulting in a poor prognosis for individuals diagnosed with metastatic melanoma. Therefore, an agent that could help treat the disease would be of great benefit to a number of people.

Razelle Kurzrock, MD of the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston and colleagues tested varying doses of curcumin on three melanoma cell lines. They found that curcumin irreversibly decreased cell viability dose-dependently, and induced apoptosis (programmed cell suicide) at high concentrations over short periods and at low concentrations over long periods of exposure.

An investigation of curcumin's mechanism of action found that it suppressed two proteins that are part of a pathway that prevents apoptosis: nuclear factor kappa beta (NF-kB), and its upstream regulator IkB kinase (IKK), which additionally independently inhibits apoptosis. Curcumin did not, however, suppress several other signaling pathways investigated in the current research.

The authors conclude that "Curcumin is a potent suppressor of cell viability and inducer of apoptosis in melanoma cell lines . . . Future investigation to determine the effects of curcumin in animal models of melanoma and clinical trials are planned."
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