Cancer is currently the second leading cause of death in the United States, and while there have been some major breakthroughs in treatment, there is still no cure. A recent drug trial turned to botanicals to attempt to help those with head and neck cancers, which account for about 4% of cases.
The trial was undertaken at the University of California, Los Angeles, and found that the botanical-based drug may have promise in helping these patients.
How does it work?
The drug, which is called APG-157, is made up of plant-based polyphenols including curcumin. According to the study, curcumin has been previously linked to suppressing tumors due to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant qualities. However, use of it clinically has been limited because people don’t absorb it effectively orally.
In this study, they found that the drug was effectively absorbed via “oral mucosal absorption.” To simplify it: They gave patients a lozenge, which dissolves slowly in the mouth, instead of a pill to swallow or other means of delivering medication.
Using this method, curcumin (and the other polyphenols) were effectively able to enter the bloodstream and work their magic. Three hours after taking the drug, they saw high levels of curcumin and its byproducts in the bloodstream and in tumor tissue.
Cancer patients who were given the medication saw decreases in cytokines, which are proteins involved in inflammation that can be found in saliva. They also saw reduced numbers of Bacteroides, which are a type of bacteria with an outer layer that prevent them from being detected by our immune systems. Thirdly, patients saw an increase in T-cells in the environment around tumors, which in other therapies are harnessed to kill said tumors.
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How can this help cancer patients?
The results of this trial show that, specifically for those with head and neck cancers, the drug may be useful in fighting the inflammation and in drawing T-cells to tumors, which can then be harnessed to fight the tumor.
According to the report, the drug may have promise when used “in combination with immunotherapy drugs.” They also point out that the trial saw no adverse effects of the treatment, making this one a potentially better option for head and neck cancer patients who often see negative impacts from traditional treatment (such as radiation and chemotherapy).
Curcumin is one of the main compounds that make up turmeric, which we know can help fight inflammation and boost our immune system, among other benefits for everyone. Adding turmeric to your regular routine can be a powerful tool for many health problems, including cancer, but also Candida, infections, and even depression.
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