Turmeric, the spice associated with cancer treatment, has always been hyped. However, it has never been converted into a viable drug. Now, a new study has been successful in creating a prodrug form of the wonder spice.

Turmeric, more specifically, its molecule curcumin is the ingredient that has been proven to successfully fight against tumors in several preclinical models. But when it comes to manufacturing it in medicine form, pharmaceutical companies have faced many hurdles.

But a team of researchers from Kyoto University has been able to develop a prodrug form of curcumin called TBP1901 that has shown anti-tumor effects with no toxicity. Their study was published in the European Journal of Pharmacology.

“Curcumin has long been used as a spice or food coloring, so we expect to see minimal side effects,” lead author Masashi Kanai said, reported SciTechDaily.

Curcumin is a natural polyphenol whose limited bioavailability and low stability have dampened its prospects in clinical use till now.

The research team identified the role of the enzyme GUSB in TBP1901 conversion to curcumin. Based on this assumption, the team predicted that the conversion of the drug into curcumin would not take place in mice that have the genetically impaired enzyme, GUSB . Moreover, they used a CRISPR-Cas9 screen method that found that curcumin also has essential therapeutic targets.

“The high conversion rate of TBP1901 to curcumin in bone marrow warrants its clinical application for diseases growing in the marrow like multiple myeloma and leukemia,” Kanai stated.

The study was funded by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science.

Another drug, HA15, was in the news recently. The drug is touted to kill two birds with one stone. It can work against both covid-19 and cancer.

“We found that this drug was very effective in reducing the number and size of SARS-CoV-2 plaques produced in the infected cells, in safe doses which had no harmful effect on normal cells," co-author, Amy S. Lee, professor of biochemistry and molecular medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC, said.

In another study, the research team at the Keck School of Medicine investigated the efficacy of HA15 in cancer, along with another GRP78 inhibitor YUM70. The study was conducted in collaboration with researchers at the University of Michigan, US.

It was found in the study that both, HA15 and YUM70, suppressed the production of mutant KRAS proteins, a common mutation that resists drug treatment, and also reduced the number of such mutant-bearing cancer cells.