Baylor Scott & White Research Institute scientists found curcumin, a plant-based medicinal compound, can help overcome chemotherapy resistance in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma, the country’s fourth leading cause of cancer-related deaths.
According to researchers, resistance to chemotherapeutic drugs is a major challenge for PDAC patients. Initially, patients may respond to chemotherapy but, as cancer stem cells form, patients’ bodies may become immune to chemotherapy drugs. The Baylor Scott & White study stated curcumin can act as an adjunct to chemotherapy to battle this.
“By treating certain cells with small doses of curcumin, we were able to reverse the pathways that lead to chemoresistance,” Dr. Ajay Goel, director of gastrointestinal research and translational genomics and oncology at Baylor Scott & White Research Institute, said in a statement. “This is an important breakthrough that could lead to better prognosis and longer lives for patients with chemoresistant pancreatic cancer.”
Goel said his team had identified two key players in regulating drug resistance. Researchers found that when pancreatic cancer cells were treated with curcumin, the natural compound inhibited pathways associated with chemotherapy drug resistance—increasing reception to first-line drug therapy. Researchers also found curcumin can prevent the formation of spheroids, in turn reducing tumor growth and recurrence.
Currently, Goel and his research team are continuing to explore the benefits of curcumin. There are clinical trials underway studying the role of curcumin in cervical, breast, and colorectal cancers.