The research in the University Department of Cancer Studies and Molecular Medicine is making use of actual tissue from tumours extracted from patients undergoing surgery.

The aim is use tissue from the colorectal tumours to effectively target chemo-resistant cells using curcumin, an extract of the commonly used root turmeric.

Doctor Karen Brown, a Reader at the University, is the principal investigator of this new research, which is also being led by Doctor Lynne Howells, of the Chemoprevention and Biomarkers Group at the University.

Brown said: “Following treatment for cancer, small populations of cancer cells often remain which are responsible for disease returning. These cells appear to have different properties to the bulk of cells within a tumour, making them resistant to chemotherapy.

“Previous laboratory research has shown that curcumin, from turmeric, has not only improved the effectiveness of chemotherapy but has also reduced the number of chemo-resistant cells which has implications in preventing the disease returning.

“We hope that our work will lead to a better understanding of the mechanisms through which curcumin targets resistant cells in tumours. It should also help us identify those patient populations who are most likely to benefit from curcumin treatment in the future.”; Source: University of Leicester