~ Curcumin Fights Melanoma in Vitro and in Vivo

The September 2004 issue of the International Journal of Cancer (http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/cgi-bin/jhome/29331) published the findings of researchers in Reims, France, that curcumin has an antitumor effect in cell cultures of melanoma and in mice with the disease. Curcumin is derived from turmeric, a spice commonly used in Indian and other cuisines that has been found to be protective against some cancers as well as other diseases.

In the in vitro experiments, the research team administered curcumin to single layers of mouse melanoma cells and found a dose-dependent decrease in cell viability regardless of the amount of time that the cells were exposed. They also studied curcumin's effect on cells grown in three dimensional cultures that are more like solid tumors found in living organisms. Curcumin increased cell death in these cultures as well, although the cells were more resistant than the single layer cultures. Further investigation revealed that programmed cell death, known as apoptosis, was responsible for the antitumor effect observed in these experiments, which has been demonstrated in other studies.

To study curcumin's antitumoral effect in vitro, a group of mice with melanoma were pretreated with an immune therapy that contained proteins derived from the melanoma cells, while another group was treated with curcumin, and a third group received both treatments. While each treatment alone resulted in little benefit, the combination significantly inhibited tumor growth and improved immune response in the mice that received it. When survival was evaluated, the immune preparation and curcumin were found to similarly enhance median survival time (by 48.6 percent and 45.7 percent respectively), and the combined treatments further increased median survival time by 82.8 percent compared to untreated mice.

The authors conclude that the study "shows that curcumin may provide a valuable tool for the development of a therapeutic combination against melanoma."


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