Researchers have discovered a way to use curcumin, found in the spice turmeric, to stop bone cancer cell growth

When it comes to paediatric cancer, osteosarcoma, a form of bone cancer, is the second most prevalent cause of death by cancer in children.

Children diagnosed with bone cancer are often treated with high doses of chemotherapy before and after surgery, many of which have harmful side effects.

Obviously, cancer researchers would like to develop more effective and gentler treatment options, especially after surgery when patients are trying to recover from bone damage at the same time that they are taking harsh drugs to suppress tumour growth.

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A new treatment using curcumin

One gentler new treatment could be a drug delivery system using curcumin, the active ingredient in the spice turmeric.

Developed by Washington State University researchers, it was found to successfully inhibit bone cancer cells while promoting the growth of healthy bone cells.

Curcumin health benefits

Turmeric has been used for centuries in Asian countries, both in cooking and as medicine.

The active ingredient, curcumin, has been shown to have anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory and bone-building capabilities. It has also been shown to prevent various forms of cancers.

“I want people to know the beneficial effects of these natural compounds,” says researcher Susmita Bose. “Natural biomolecules derived from these plant-based products are inexpensive and a safer alternative to synthetic drugs.”

Using 3-D printed bone grafts to deliver curcumin

When taken, curcumin isn’t absorbed well – it is metabolised and eliminated too quickly.

Instead, researchers used 3-D printing to build support scaffolds out of calcium phosphate and encapsulated curcumin in a vesicle of fat molecules into the scaffolds, allowing for the gradual release of the compound.

This system inhibited the growth of osteosarcoma cells by 96 percent after 11 days as compared to untreated samples. The system also promoted healthy bone cell growth.

“This study introduces a new era of integration – where modern 3-D printing technology is coupled with the safe and effective use of alternative medicine, which may provide a better tool for bone tissue engineering,” says Bose.

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Source: Washington State University via www.sciencedaily.com

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