Research Highlight

Curcumin perks up anticancer drug

doi:10.1038/nindia.2014.12 Published online 27 January 2014

Researchers have produced drug carriers from lipids and peptides that can trap and deliver curcumin and the anticancer drug doxorubicin to cancer cells1 . This simultaneous delivery of curcumin and doxorubicin can kill tumour cells by stopping the growth of new blood vessels. These drug carriers can be used to devise effective anticancer therapies.

Doxorubicin is a widely used anticancer drug. However, various cancers have developed resistance to doxorubicin. In addition, high doses of doxorubicin have harmful effects on the gastrointestinal tract and the heart. Curcumin is a natural anticancer compound that has been shown to reduce the toxicity and enhance the efficacy of synthetic anticancer drugs.

The researchers synthesized drug carriers known as liposomes from lipids and peptides. They then produced three different liposomes: those containing doxorubicin alone, those containing curcumin alone and those containing both curcumin and doxorubicin. They probed the anticancer activities of these drug carriers using endothelial cells (new blood-vessel-forming cells), skin cancer cells and normal cells in laboratory dishes and mice.

The drug carrier containing both curcumin and doxorubicin induced the death of endothelial cells more efficiently than those containing only curcumin and only doxorubicin. The drug carrier loaded with curcumin and doxorubicin was also potent in killing the skin cancer cells. The drug carrier containing curcumin and doxorubicin inhibited the migration and invasion of endothelial and cancer cells more effectively than the other two drug carriers.

The researchers say that these drug carriers can be used to trap combinations of water-loving and water-hating small anticancer molecules for developing effective anticancer therapies.


  1. Barui, S. et al. Simultaneous delivery of doxorubicin and curcumin encapsulated in liposomes of pegylated RGDK-lipopeptide to tumor vasculature. Biomaterials 35, 1643-1656 (2014) | Article | PubMed |