Summer Research Fellowship Programme of India's Science Academies

To study the synergistic effect of curcumin and anticancer drug in breast cancer cells and cancer stem cells

Ananya Sharma

Dr. D. Y. Patil Biotechnology and Bioinformatics Institute, Tathawade, Pune, Maharashtra. Pin 411033.

Prof. Dr. Bhudev C. Das

Stem Cell and Cancer Research Lab, Amity Institute of Molecular Medicine and Stem Cell Research, Amity University, Sector 125, Noida, UP. Pin- 201313.


Breast cancer is the most common cancer and a leading cause of cancer-related mortality in women worldwide. It accounts for approximately 25% of all female malignancies with a higher prevalence in developed countries. Over 100,000 new breast cancer patients are estimated to be diagnosed annually in India. Breast cancer is the commonest cancer among women’s in the urban registries of Delhi, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Calcutta and Trivandrum, where it constitutes >30% of all cancers in Females. Depending on the type of breast cancers and how advanced it is, there are different types of treatments strategies. To date, chemotherapy has been the most frequently used treatment for metastatic breast cancer. Chemotherapy involves using of anticancer drugs and small molecules to selectively kill the cancer cells. The drug travels through the bloodstream to reach cancer cells in most parts of the body and they kill cancer cells along with the normal body cells. Thus, there are toxic side effects. Treatment with cancer drug commonly used is Doxorubicin which can results in severe side effects, mainly cardio toxicity and bone marrow suppression. In addition, a range of tumours develop resistance to this drug. Several natural herbs have aroused interest in cancer chemotherapy due to their anticancer activities and chemo-radio sensitizing functions. One such natural herb is curcumin which is an effective sensitizer that can inhibit different types of cancer cells from proliferating. Therefore it will be useful as most effective if the cancer drug (doxorubicin) is used along with curcumin together as it is expected to improve the cytotoxic effects of doxorubicin in killing not only cancer cells but also cancer stem cells which are the major factors for drug resistance and tumor recurrence. The aim of the present study is to analyse the synergistic effect of curcumin and doxorubicin in breast cancer cells and cancer stem cells. Breast cancer cell line, MCF-7 is being cultured to examine the cytotoxic effect. Breast cancer stem cells are sorted using FACS. MTT assay is used for the assessment of cell viability after drug treatment. IC50 of the drugs are calculated individually and in combination using the standard method.

Keywords: Breast cancer, doxorubicin, curcumin, MTT

Written, reviewed, revised, proofed and published with