LSU researcher gets grant to develop cancer-preventing gum

A Louisiana State University (LSU) researcher has received a $50,000 grant to produce a potentially cancer-preventing gum that uses curcumin, a substance found in the spice turmeric.

Cherie-Ann Nathan, MD, professor and chair of otolaryngology/head and neck surgery at LSU School of Medicine, was awarded the grant from LSU's Leveraging Innovation for Technology Transfer (LIFT2) program, according to a story on ArkLaTexhomepage.com. The program is designed to help LSU researchers bring their inventions to market.

Dr. Nathan's research, funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health, is investigating curcumin's possible role in preventing the progression of head and neck cancers (HNCs). Promising results from her lab have led to the first HNC trial with curcumin.

One of Dr. Nathan's challenges has been the human stomach's difficulty in absorbing curcumin, according to the article.

Dr. Nathan theorized that gum may be a more effective delivery system, as it allows for direct mucosal absorption of curcumin, bypassing the stomach. She came up with the idea of creating a chewing gum that slowly releases curcumin to treat upper aerodigestive diseases and head and neck problems.

The grant will allow Dr. Nathan to contract with a medicinal chemist to develop the curcumin gum.

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