Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT M) researchers have shown that the active principle from turmeric and curcumin can enhance cancer cell death caused by a protein called ‘TRAIL.’
There have been considerable efforts in developing therapeutic agents that trigger apoptotic death of cancer cells. One such agent that has been found promising is a protein called ‘TNF-Related Apoptosis-Inducing Ligand’ (TRAIL). Its ability to selectively kill cancer cells by ‘apoptosis’ has resulted in a number of preclinical studies being carried out all over the world.
Curcumin is already known to be a potent anti-cancer agent because of its ability to inhibit carcinogenesis and induce apoptosis in various cancer cells. Its function as a sensitizer to TRAIL has been shown in cases of prostate cancer, breast cancer, colon cancer and malignant glioma.
The IIT Madras Research Team showed that treating leukaemia (blood/bone-marrow cancer) cells with curcumin sensitises the cells to TRAIL and results in more efficient cell death. They performed studies using isolated leukaemia cells from cancer patients and found that non-toxic concentrations of curcumin can significantly increase the efficiency of TRAIL-induced cell death.
There are no confirmatory evidences yet, but such research, combined with observations made by the IIT Madras team, can unleash newer effective and safe therapies for cancer.