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Mol Nutr Food Res. 2008 Sep;52(9):1010-30. doi: 10.1002/mnfr.200700354.

Multi-targeted therapy by curcumin: how spicy is it?

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Gastrointestinal Cancer Research Laboratory, Department of Internal Medicine, Charles A Sammons Cancer Center and Baylor Research Institute, Baylor University Medical Center, Dallas, TX, USA.


Although traditional medicines have been used for thousands of years, for most such medicines neither the active component nor their molecular targets have been very well identified. Curcumin, a yellow component of turmeric or curry powder, however, is an exception. Although inhibitors of cyclooxygenase-2, HER2, tumor necrosis factor, EGFR, Bcr-abl, proteosome, and vascular endothelial cell growth factor have been approved for human use by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), curcumin as a single agent can down-regulate all these targets. Curcumin can also activate apoptosis, down-regulate cell survival gene products, and up-regulate p53, p21, and p27. Although curcumin is poorly absorbed after ingestion, multiple studies have suggested that even low levels of physiologically achievable concentrations of curcumin may be sufficient for its chemopreventive and chemotherapeutic activity. Thus, curcumin regulates multiple targets (multitargeted therapy), which is needed for treatment of most diseases, and it is inexpensive and has been found to be safe in human clinical trials. The present article reviews the key molecular mechanisms of curcumin action and compares this to some of the single-targeted therapies currently available for human cancer.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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