Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States. Conventional therapies cause widespread systemic toxicity
and lead to serious side effects which prohibit their long term use. Additionally, in many circumstances tumor resistance and recurrence
is commonly observed. Therefore, there is an urgent need to identify suitable anticancer therapies that are highly precise with minimal
side effects. Curcumin is a natural polyphenol molecule derived from the Curcuma longa plant which exhibits anticancer, chemopreventive,
chemo- and radio-sensitization properties. Curcumin’s widespread availability, safety, low cost and multiple cancer fighting
functions justify its development as a drug for cancer treatment. However, various basic and clinical studies elucidate curcumin’s limited
efficacy due to its low solubility, high rate of metabolism, poor bioavailability and pharmacokinetics. A growing list of nanomedicine(s)
using first line therapeutic drugs have been approved or are under consideration by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to improve
human health. These nanotechnology strategies may help to overcome challenges and ease the translation of curcumin from bench to
clinical application. Prominent research is reviewed which shows that advanced drug delivery of curcumin (curcumin nanoformulations
or curcumin nanomedicine) is able to leverage therapeutic benefits by improving bioavailability and pharmacokinetics which in turn improves
binding, internalization and targeting of tumor(s). Outcomes using these novel drug delivery systems have been discussed in detail.
This review also describes the tumor-specific drug delivery system(s) that can be highly effective in destroying tumors. Such new
approaches are expected to lead to clinical trials and to improve cancer therapeutics.
Keywords: Nanotechnology, curcumin nanomedicine, drug delivery, cancer therapy, chemo-prevention, and tumor targeting, systemic toxicity, polyphenol molecule, Curcuma longa, bioavailability
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