Turmeric to kill cancer cells! Kerala’s Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute wins US patent for curcumin fibrin wafer

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A big breakthrough in the field of cancer treatment! Kerala’s iconic Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute of Medical Sciences and Technology (SCTIMST) in Thiruvananthapuram has won a US patent for developing turmeric-based curcumin fibrin wafer for cancer treatment! Experts are of the view that this turmeric-based fibrin wafer is bound to be a game-changer in the field of cancer treatment. According to a TOI report, the treatment involves extracting a molecule from turmeric and directly delivering it to the affected cells. Notably, the research by Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute was funded by the Indian Council for Medical Research.

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Health benefits of turmeric

Turmeric, known for its health benefits, has a chemical compound known as curcumin. Curcumin can easily be absorbed in the body and has proven properties to fight cancer, the Times of India report quoted SCTIMST head and lead researcher, Dr Lissy Krishnan, as saying. The Week cites that for a long time, researchers have been trying to develop cancer treatment using these properties of turmeric, but it has not been possible to look into chemotherapy using curcumin as the molecule is water-insoluble.

In a significant development, SCTIMST research has been focused on developing a delivery system through which the curcumin could directly be planted in the affected cells instead of using oral or intravenous methods. This would enable the molecule to target cancer cells while sparing the healthy cells in the surrounding.

The delivery system devised by SCTIMST includes processing curcumin to form a wafer configuration. As per The Week, this wafer would consist of freeze-dried curcumin and human blood proteins fibrinogen and albumin. When released in the body tissues, the albumin present in fibrin clot would bind the albumin receptors to the cancer cells, allowing the entry of curcumin into the tissue. Meanwhile, the fibrin clot would be broken down as a result of the body's natural mechanism, without any harmful effects.

The TOI report has also quoted SCTIMST director Asha Kishore as saying that the aim is to implant the wafer after surgically removing the cancer tissue, so as to kill any remaining cancer cells that could cause the disease to reoccur or spread to other parts. The SCTIMST is now ready for transferring the technology for further development of curcumin as a cancer treatment, Kishore said, adding that the US patent would help in boosting the industry's confidence in their research.