A bio-drug from turmeric to treat cancer

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A bio-drug from turmeric to treat cancer

  • CSIR-Center for Cellular and Molecular Biology(CCMB) scientists in collaboration with CSIR- National Chemical Laboratory(NCL) announced that they have made progress towards developing a non-toxic bio-drug.
  • It is derived from turmeric through a gene silencing approach to treat cancer.


  • Leading cause of death worldwide - nearly 10 million deaths in 2020.
  • Need for development of novel strategies to combat cancer - chemo is toxic.


  • Also called Biologic agent or biological agent.
  • A substance made from a living organism or its products.
  • Used in the prevention, diagnosis, or treatment of cancer and other diseases.
  • Includes antibodies, vaccines.


  • A complex compound - cellular protein synthesis.
  • Even replaces DNA as a carrier of genetic codes in some viruses.
  • 3 well-known RNAs - messenger RNA (mRNA), transfer RNA (tRNA), and ribosomal RNA (rRNA)
  • Present in all organisms.
  • Carry out biochemical reactions similar to enzymes.
  • Complex regulatory functions in cells.
  • Play important roles in both normal cellular processes and diseases.


  • Carries genetic codes from the DNA in the nucleus to ribosomes.
  • Information in DNA cannot be decoded directly into proteins. First transcribed or copied into mRNA.
  • Each molecule of mRNA encodes the information for one protein. Specifies the incorporation of a particular amino acid within the protein.
  • In cytoplasm - depending on the code carried by mRNA - a specific protein is produced.
  • Key role - protein synthesis.

Gene silencing approach

  • Double stranded RNA (ds-RNA) molecule used: ds-RNA - a key activator of the innate immune system
  • ds-RNA helps in silencing a specific mRNA (producing disease causing protein at times).
  • ds-RNA binds to the disease causing mRNA by producing RNA interfering silencing complex (risc).
  • Prevents the translation of the mRNA.
  • Prevents protein production.
  • Prevents from diseases.
  • RNAi occurs in all eukaryotic organisms as cellular defense.
  • Not all mRNA causes disease causing proteins.
  • A promising tool for targeted and focused therapy - specified to a target (mRNA).
  • Challenge : Lack of safe and effective delivery methods for RNAi molecules.


  • Bio-drug containing the nano-curcumin structures derived from turmeric - used to encapsulate the RNAi and other molecules targets specific tissues.
  • Curcumin :
  • Hydrophobic bioactive ingredient.
  • Found in a rhizome of the turmeric plant.
  • Variety of biological and pharmacological action.
  • Drawbacks -
  • Low water solubility, poor bioavailability, and poor metabolism.
  • Enhanced curcumins biological & pharmacological activity for efficient delivery - nanoencapsulation.
  • A potential nanorange formulation of curcumin - Nanocurcumin
  • Increases all the biological and pharmacological benefits of curcumin.
  • Curcumin + RNAi = great development in cancer treatment.
  • Research - Nanocurcumin with RNAi retardation of tumor with six months survival in aggressive models of colon and breast cancer