Italian researchers say a curcumin supplement containing a compound found in black pepper slowed the growth of mesothelioma tumors in mice.
The commercially available supplement is called Curcumin-C3complex/Bioperine. This is the first time this formulation has been studied for malignant mesothelioma.
Lab-grown human mesothelioma cells stopped growing when scientists treated them with the curcumin supplement. The treatment did the same in live mice.
The researchers suggest that the curcumin supplement may work synergistically with standard treatments.
What is in Curcumin-C3complex/Bioperine?
Curcumin is the most bioactive compound in turmeric. Turmeric is the spice that gives curry its bright yellow color.
Several scientific studies suggest that curcumin and other curcuminoid compounds in turmeric have powerful health benefits. These compounds are anti-inflammatory and may fight damaging oxidation caused by metabolism.
The Curcumin-C3complex/Bioperine curcumin supplement is a standardized extract. It contains three different curcuminoids and piperine. Piperine is an alkaloid of black pepper. It improves the bioavailability of the curcumin by up to 2000 percent.
Curcumin Supplement Triggers Apoptosis in the Lab
The goal of the new study was to see if this standardized curcumin supplement could improve mesothelioma treatment. Mesothelioma is a rare but deadly cancer that is usually fatal within a year. Most standard treatments are not very effective by themselves.
The Italian team put the curcumin supplement on different mesothelioma cell lines in the lab.
“Curcumin-C3complex/Bioperine…induced growth inhibition in all mesothelioma cell lines analysed,” they write.
The treatment triggered apoptosis, or programmed cell death in the treated cells. The cells also lost their ability to proliferate and to migrate to other areas.
Higher doses of the curcumin supplement were more effective than lower doses. The longer mesothelioma cells were exposed to it, the better it worked.
Lab Mice Respond to Alternative Mesothelioma Treatment
The next step was to try the treatment in live mice. Scientists implanted human mesothelioma tumors in the mice. In the mice that got the curcumin supplement, the tumors grew much more slowly.
The researchers theorize that the curcumin supplement reduced the tumors’ ability to produce new blood vessels for themselves. It also increased cell death through apoptosis.
Previous studies have suggested that curcumin enhances the effectiveness of cancer drugs. The Italian team says this standardized supplement may do the same thing for mesothelioma patients.
“Our results suggest that implementation of standard pharmacological therapies with novel compounds may pave the way to develop alternative approaches to mesothelioma,” they write.
Di Meo, F, et al, “Curcumin C3 complex®/Bioperine® has antineoplastic activity in mesothelioma: an in vitro and in vivo analysis”, August 16, 2019, Journal of Experimental and Clinical Cancer Research, https://jeccr.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s13046-019-1368-8