Turmeric May Be the Answer to Osteosarcoma Treatment

As young patients with bone cancer are often treated with high doses of chemotherapy before and after surgery, researchers wanted to develop gentler treatment options.

A new drug delivery system using curcumin, the main ingredient in the spice turmeric, successfully inhibited bone cancer cells while promoting growth of healthy bone cells, according to a study by the Washington State University. The work could lead to better post-operative treatments for patients with osteosarcoma.

As young patients with bone cancer are often treated with high doses of chemotherapy before and after surgery, the study researchers wanted to develop gentler treatment options. Turmeric has been used as medicine for centuries, and its active ingredient, curcumin, has been shown to have anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, and bone-building capabilities.

In the study, published in the journal ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces, the researchers used 3D printing to build support scaffolds out of calcium phosphate (CaP). Most implants, such ceramic scaffolds, are currently made of metal. However, CaP scaffolds, which are more like real bone, could someday be used as a graft material after bone cancer surgery. Therefore, the researchers incorporated curcumin, encapsulated in a vesicle of fat molecules into the scaffolds, allowing for the gradual release of the chemical.

The study demonstrated that the system inhibited the growth of osteosarcoma cells by 96% after 11 days as compared to untreated samples. The system also promoted healthy bone cell growth.

"This study introduces a new era of integration ­— where modern 3D printing technology is coupled with the safe and effective use of alternative medicine, which may provide a better tool for bone tissue engineering," lead author Susmita Bose, PhD, said in a press release about the study.

The researchers concluded that they are continuing this unique area of research, studying the benefits of integrating other natural compounds in biomedical technology.


  • Liposome-Encapsulated Curcumin-Loaded 3D Printed Scaffold for Bone Tissue Engineering. ACS Publications website. Published March 29, 2019. https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/acsami.9b01218. Accessed June 26, 2019.

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