Timed Release of Curcumin Halts Bone Cancer Cell Growth

Turmeric’s main ingredient may improve post-op osteosarcoma treatment

A drug delivery system that uses curcumin, the main ingredient in turmeric, successfully inhibits bone cancer cells while promoting the growth of healthy cells.

The work by researchers at Washington State University, published in ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces, could mean better post-operative treatments for people with osteosarcoma, the second leading cause of cancer death in children.

Children with bone cancer often receive high doses of chemotherapy before and after surgery, which can have harmful side effects. More “gentle” options would be particularly beneficial post-surgery, when patients are recovering from bone damage while undergoing onerous treatment to inhibit tumor growth.

Curcumin has been shown to have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and bone-building capabilities. It has also been shown to prevent various cancers. But its rapid metabolization and elimination means it is poorly absorbed by the body if taken orally as medicine. 

The researchers used 3-D printing to build support scaffolds out of calcium phosphate. These ceramic scaffolds resemble real bone and eventually, they could replace the more common metal implants and be used as a graft material after bone cancer surgery. By incorporating curcumin into the scaffolds, the researchers enabled the gradual release of the chemical.

After 11 days, the drug delivery system had inhibited the growth of osteosarcoma cells by 96% compared to untreated samples. In addition, the system stimulated healthy bone cell growth.

The researchers are continuing their research by studying the benefits of incorporating additional natural compounds in biomedical technology.

Source: MedicalXpress, June 24, 2019