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Turmeric may stop bone cancer growth

Journal of Business - 7/23/2019

3D-printed 'scaffold' improves absorption

WASHINGTON STATE UNIVERSITY - A Washington State University research team has developed a drug delivery system using the main ingredient in the spice turmeric that successfully inhibits bone cancer cells while promoting growth of healthy hone cells.

The work with the turmeric derivative curcumin could lead to better post operative treatments for people with osteosarcoma, the second most prevalent cause of cancer death in children, the researchers say.

The researchers, including Susmita Bose, a professor in the WSU School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering, and graduate student Naboneeta Sarkar, described their work in a recent issue of the technical journal ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces.

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

Young patients with bone cancer often are treated with high doses of chemotherapy before and after surgery. Such treatments often have harmful side effects, she says. Researchers would like to develop gentler treatment options, especially after surgery, when patients are trying to recover from bone damage at the same time that they're taking harsh drugs to suppress tumor growth.

Turmeric has been used in cooking and as medicine for centuries in Asian countries, and its active ingredient, curcumin, has been shown to have antioxidant, anti inflammatory, and bone building capabilities. It has also been shown to have some cancer-preventive properties, she says.

"I want people to know the beneficial effects of these natural compounds," asserts Bose. "Natural biomolecules derived from these plant based products are inexpensive and a safer alternative to synthetic drugs."

However, when taken orally as medicine, the compound can't be absorbed well in the body. It is metabolized and eliminated too quickly.

In their study, the researchers used 3D printing to build support scaffolds out of calcium phosphate. While most implants are currently made of metal, such ceramic scaffolds, which are more like real bone, could someday be used as a graft material after bone cancer surgery. The researchers incorporated curcumin, encapsulated in a vesicle of fat molecules into the scaffolds, allowing for the gradual release of the chemical.

The researchers found that their system inhibited the growth of osteosarcoma cells by 96% after 11 days.


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