A new way of preparing ovarian cancer tumours for treatment has been found in an unlikely source - curry spice.
Researchers in the US found that exposing ovarian cancer cells that were previously therapy-resistant to microscopic "nanoparticles" of curcumin - a component of turmeric - made them more responsive to chemotherapy and radiation treatment.
A specially developed form of curcumin - known as Nano-CUR - was used in the study as regular curcumin is poorly absorbed by the body.
Study leader Dr Subhash Chauhan, from the University of South Dakota, US, said: "One strategy to improve the effectiveness and limit the toxicity of cancer therapy is to induce chemo/radio-sensitisation in cancer cells using natural dietary phytochemicals like curcumin. However, curcumin is poorly absorbed by the body, which limits its effectiveness.
"We have developed a nanoparticle formulation, Nano-CUR, to provide increased bioavailability as well as targeted delivery of curcumin into tumours.
"Nanoparticle mediated curcumin delivery will further improve the sensitisation and therapeutic capabilities. This study demonstrates a novel pre-treatment strategy that could be implemented in pre-clinical animal models and in future clinical trials."
The findings were published online in the Journal of Ovarian Research.