Research published recently in the journal Clinical Cancer Research has demonstrated the therapeutic potential of curcumin, the principal curcuminoid of the spice turmeric, and PIAS3 in tissue samples of mesothelioma solid tumors. The researchers studied PIAS3 expression and found that it inhibited STAT3.
The tissue samples used for investigating the effect of PIAS3 on STAT3 were obtained from three different locations within the US. For each sample the researchers investigated how long the patient lived and the type of mesothelioma they suffered from. The information was collated, and using the same specimens the researchers investigated the effects of curcumin and peptides extracted from PIAS3 segments on malignant mesothelioma.
“In those mesothelioma patients where PIAS3 is low, indeed STAT3 is activated,” explained Afshin Dowlati, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine (OH, USA). “Mesothelioma patients who have low PIAS3 and high STAT3 have a greater chance of dying early. On the flip side, those patients with a high PIAS3 levels have a 44% decreased chance of dying in 1 year, which is substantial.”
The promising results of the experiments showed that curcumin and PIAS3 peptides raised PIAS3 levels. The raised levels of PIAS3 inhibited the activity of STAT3 and caused mesothelioma cells to die. The researchers also found that PIAS3 levels could be used as a marker for managing mesothelioma.
“Our findings suggest that PIAS3 expression positively affects survival in mesothelioma patients and that PIAS3 activation could become a therapeutic strategy,” Dowlati explained. “Our interest for the future is that we want to find better, more simple ways to increase intracellular levels of PIAS3 for malignant mesothelioma through the use of synthetic PIAS3 peptide or curcumin analogs. We must develop a curcumin analog that is absorbable by the human body. Currently, curcumin ingested as the spice turmeric has practically no absorption within the gut.”
Their findings not only contribute knowledge to the understanding of mesothelioma, but also to the understanding of the field of oncology as a whole. However, the researchers stressed that more research was needed before firm conclusions on the effect of curcumin and PIAS3 could be stated definitively.
“Our findings beg the question of what role PIAS3 could play in limiting STAT3 activation in other cancers as well,” explained Dowlati. “There is an opportunity to extend this discovery because a number of cancers are STAT3-activated.”