A new French study on curcumin finds that the compound not only slowed the growth of one of the rarest types of mesothelioma tumor cells in the laboratory but also reduced total tumor mass in lab rats in just two weeks.
Evaluating Curcumin’s Effect on Mesothelioma Cells
Curcumin, the plant polyphenol that gives turmeric its yellow hue and pungent flavor, has been the subject of numerous malignant mesothelioma studies in recent years, in part because of its powerful anti-inflammatory properties.
In the newest study, the French researchers focused on one of the rarest and deadliest subtypes of the asbestos cancer – sarcomatoid mesothelioma.
First, they used sarcomatoid mesothelioma cells from rats that had been induced to develop mesothelioma by exposing them to asbestos. By testing curcumin on the mesothelioma cells first, the research team was able to determine the optimal curcumin concentration and dose to use on the live rats.
Testing Curcumin in Live Rats with Mesothelioma
With dosing established, the researchers administered curcumin directly into the peritoneal cavities of sick mice. For comparison, a second group of rats was treated with an epigenetic drug called SAHA.
“The treatment of tumor-bearing rats with 1.5 mg/kg curcumin on days 7, 9, 11 and 14 after tumor challenge dramatically reduced the mean total tumor mass at day 16,” writes researcher Daniel L. Pouliquen in the journal Oncotarget.
The study found that both curcumin and SAHA produced necrosis or dead tissue within the mesothelioma tumors by day 28, but the necrosis induced by curcumin was “much more extensive”.
In addition, curcumin appeared to attract cancer-fighting CD8+ T lymphocytes to the area which clustered around small residual mesothelioma tumors in the peritoneal cavity after treatment.
“These data open up interesting new prospects for the therapy of sarcomatoid mesothelioma with curcumin and its derivatives,” concludes Dr. Pouliquen.
More Curcumin Research
Earlier this year, scientists in the Department of Experimental Medicine at the University of Rome conducted a similar experiment and that found that intraperitoneal curcumin extended survival in mice with mesothelioma.
In 2015, mesothelioma researchers with Flinders University in Australia determined that curcumin had the ability to keep mesothelioma tumors from giving rise to their own new blood vessels. That study suggested that curcumin could become a supplemental treatment for certain mesothelioma patients.
Source: Pouliquen, DL, et al, “Evaluation of intracavitary administration of curcumin for the treatment of sarcomatoid mesothelioma”, February 25, 2017, Oncotarget, Epub ahead of print