Crystal structure reveals how curcumin impairs cancer
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IMAGE: A 3D image, obtained using x-ray crystallography, shows curcumin in yellow and red binding to kinase enzyme dual-specificity tyrosine-regulated kinase 2 (DYRK2) in white at the atomic level…. view more 

Credit: UC San Diego Health

Through x-ray crystallography and kinase-inhibitor specificity profiling, University of California San Diego School of Medicine researchers, in collaboration with researchers at Peking University and Zhejiang University, reveal that curcumin, a natural occurring chemical compound found in the spice turmeric, binds to the kinase enzyme dual-specificity tyrosine-regulated kinase 2 (DYRK2) at the atomic level. This previously unreported biochemical interaction of curcumin leads to inhibition of DYRK2 that impairs cell proliferation and reduces cancer burden.

But before turning to curcumin or turmeric supplements, Sourav Banerjee, PhD, UC San Diego School of Medicine postdoctoral scholar, cautions that curcumin alone may not be the answer.

“In general, curcumin is expelled from the body quite fast,” said Banerjee. “For curcumin to be an effective drug, it needs to be modified to enter the blood stream and stay in the body long enough to target the cancer. Owing to various chemical drawbacks, curcumin on its own may not be sufficient to completely reverse cancer in human patients.”

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