August 18, 2008

Spice-Based Compound May Kill Cancer Cells

U.S. scientists say they've used a spice-based compound as a starting point to develop synthetic molecules able to kill cancer cells.

The Ohio State University researchers said they combined organic chemistry, computer-aided design and molecular biological techniques to develop and test pharmaceutical compounds that, in lab settings, are able to kill breast and prostate cancer cells and stop them from spreading.

Assistant Professor James Fuchs said the synthetic molecules are derived from curcumin, a naturally occurring compound found in the spice turmeric.

"Newer evidence describes how curcumin interacts with certain proteins to generate anti-cancer activity inside the body," said Fuchs. "We're focusing on the pathways that are most involved in cancer and trying to optimize for those properties."

Fuchs presented the research Sunday in Philadelphia during the annual meeting of the American Chemical Society.