PUDUCHERRY: Dr R Baskaran, an Associate Professor from Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Pondicherry University brought accolades for the country when a team of researchers headed by him, in collaboration with Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, have taken a significant stride in uncovering the mechanism by which curcumin, a bioactive ingredient of turmeric, commonly used in every household in India, can not only prevent but also can effectively cure colorectal cancer.
The significant finding was published in the international journal “molecular and cellular biochemistry’ on March 2, 2016.
Explaining about his discoveries, Dr R Baskaran said Curcumin, derived from the dietary turmeric (Curcuma longa) is an effective anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant agent.
This gives yellow colour and this has the preventive properties against the Colorectal Cancer (CRC). We have compared normal and colorectal cancer cells from humans, and if you consume turmeric, it prevents cancer by killing the cells causing intestinal cancer, said the Associate Prof with the Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology of Life Sciences of Pondicherry University.
Dr R Baskaran, who began research on the project, said one of the problems is the bio-availability since Curcumin absorption in the intestine is limited. We are studying a combination of Curcumin with other anti-cancer agents to increase Therapeutic efficiency and speed of recovery.
The Associate Professor, who was working in USA for 20 years before joining Pondicherry University in 2012, said "it will take more than two years to prepare a drug and we are continuing experiments with non-toxic, anti-cancer compound agents.
He said the studies on the effect of curcumin on the entire cell death process, both in tumor and normal cells are useful for the ongoing preclinical and clinical investigations on this potential chemo-preventive agent.
Colorectal Cancer (CRC) is a critical health concern because of its incidence as the third most prevalent cancer in the world. Although compared to western country colorectal cancer is low in India but because of changes in food style, there is an increased risk.
According to ICMR (Indian Council of Medical Research), the number of CRC-related deaths is estimated to be approximately 608000 worldwide, accounting for 8% of all cancer deaths and making CRC the fourth most common cause of death due to cancer.
In India, the annual incidence rates (AARs) for colon cancer and rectal cancer in men and women are 4.4 and 4.1 per 100000, respectively.
According information gathered, while curcumin’s chemoprevention property is well documented its ability to kill colorectal cancer cells is not known. To this end, Dr. R. Baskaran and his research group previously reported in a series of publications that human Non-polyposis colorectal cancer cells (HNPCC) arising due to genetic mutations in mismatch repair genes (MMR) are highly sensitive to curcumin due to unrepaired DNA damage.
Dr Baskaran has published more than 50 articles in internationally renowned journals such as Nature, PNAS and Molecular Cancer.