Solving its insolubility, researchers discover method to deliver curcumin to cancer cells
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IMAGE: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Professor of Bioengineering Dipanjan Pan (left) and post-doctoral researcher Santosh Misra have published a paper in PNAS detailing the solubility of curcumin as a method… view more 

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In India and other countries in Southeast Asia, curcumin is often used as a spice in cooking, particularly chicken or fish. It is known for its therapeutic effect and as a way to kill germs present in raw meet. Recently, scientists have also discovered that curcumin, a naturally occurring substance isolated from the Curcuma long plant, to be an effective agent for killing cancer cells.

“Until now, however, curcumin is what we call in pharmaceutical science as a ‘false lead’ – it is therapeutic, but the full effect can’t be utilized because it’s poorly soluble in water,” noted Dipanjan Pan, an associate professor of bioengineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign who leads the Laboratory of Materials in Medicine.

“When you try to deliver a drug, it requires solubility in water, otherwise it won’t flow through the bloodstream,” added Santosh Misra, a post-doctoral researcher working with Pan.

Recently, however, Pan’s laboratory collaborated with Peter Stang, the editor-in-chief of the Journal of American Chemical Society, and Distinguished

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