University Cancer Centre begins curcumin trial
The new study from researchers in our Department of Cancer Studies and Molecular Medicine could lead to bowel cancer patients suffering fewer side effects from chemotherapy and allow them to have the treatment for longer.
Patients with advanced bowel cancer are usually given a treatment called FOLFOX, which combines three chemotherapy drugs. But around 40-60 per cent of patients don’t respond and, of those who do, side effects such as severe tingling or nerve pain can limit the number of cycles patients can have.
Around 40 patients with bowel cancer that has spread to the liver will be recruited to take part in the study at Leicester Royal Infirmary and Leicester General Hospital. Three quarters of these will be given curcumin tablets for seven days, before being treated with FOLFOX. The remainder will receive FOLFOX only.
Scientists at the Cancer Research UK and National Institute for Health Research Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre (ECMC), headed by Professor William Steward, will be investigating whether curcumin can be safely added to the standard treatment for bowel cancer that has spread. Earlier studies, including several from Leicester, have shown that curcumin can enhance the ability of chemotherapy to kill bowel cancer cells in the lab.
For more on this research, see our October 2010 story: Can curry cure cancer? ... No, of course not...
Funding renewed for experimental cancer centre
The launch of the new trial happily coincides with news that Cancer Research UK and the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) have awarded £1.1 million funding to the Leicester ECMC to continue its work for another five years.
It is one of 18 centres around the UK which are part of the Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre Network. It employs six staff members and involves more than 40 cancer researchers from our College of Medicine, Biological Sciences and Psychology and clinical staff at Leicester’s hospitals – but as part of the Network, it also ensures close interaction with the other major cancer centres and their respective projects.
Researchers will also be able to continue working with patients directly to test chemoprevention drugs that can reduce the risk of cancer, as well as experimental treatments for a variety of cancers, with a particular emphasis on lung cancer and leukaemia.