Narrator: This is Science Today. Researchers at UCLA's Jonsson Cancer Center are working on new treatments to stop the growth of certain cancer cells by using a chemical called curcumin, which is found in the spice turmeric. Dr. Marilene Wang describes curcumin's effect on cancer cell growth in head and neck cancers.
Wang: Curcumin blocks this factor, called NF-kappa-B, which is a promoter of cell growth. It drives transcription, and that's a very critical step in the cancer cell growth.
Narrator: Some of Wang's lab studies found that curcumin had an even greater effect on suppressing cancer growth when combined with standard chemotherapy drugs.
Wang: We've found that similar to how bacteria get resistant to antibiotics, cancer cells can get resistant to chemotherapy drugs and the reason we combine drugs is that we can try to hit different pathways and that's the hope with curcumin. It targets certain pathways and then another chemotherapy drug can target another pathway so that when you combine them there is more chance of actually killing the cancer cells effectively.
Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.