Systemic Nanocurcumin for Pancreatic Cancer Therapy
- Principal Investigator: Anirban Maitra
- Co-Investigators: Jeff Bulte, Kathleen Gabrielson, James Herman, Hyam Levitsky, Martin Pomper, Michelle Rudek, Jeff Wang
- Industry Consultants: Lawrence Helson (SignPath Pharma, Inc.), Asima Pattanaik (Surmodics Pharmaceuticals), Vladimir Badmaev (Sabinsa Corp.)
- Government Consultant: Scott McNeil (Nanotechnology Characterization Lab)
A second project, lead by Anirban Maitra, associate professor of Pathology and Oncology at the School of Medicine and Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center, focuses on curcumin, a substance found in the traditional Indian spice turmeric. In preclinical studies, curcumin has demonstrated numerous anti-cancer properties but, because of its physical size, is not readily taken up into the bloodstream or into tissues. However, engineered curcumin nanoparticles can easily be administered as an injection and get widely distributed in all tissues, including tumors arising in abdominal organs like the pancreas. Combined with the chemotherapeutic agent gemcitabine, this team is striving to make nanocurcumin a treatment for highly lethal cancers, such as pancreatic cancer, and Maitra’s group is funded to conduct all of the relevant preclinical and toxicity studies required in order to begin human clinical trials with this nanoparticle.
“The beneficial anticancer effects of curcumin have been known for years, but we are finally able to harness that potential using the power of nanotechnology,” Maitra said. “This crucial funding from the NCI enables us to carry out the compendium of studies required in order to file an Investigational New Drug Application (IND) with the USFDA for treating patients with advanced cancers.”