“I think it’s really important that people keep signing up to these type of trials to push research forward.”
A trial looking at curcumin to treat Barrett's oesophagus
We know that this is an especially worrying time for people with cancer and their family and friends. We have separate information about coronavirus and cancer. Please read that information alongside this page. We will update that information as guidance changes.
This trial looked at a spice called curcumin to see if it could treat Barrett’s oesophagus. Barrett’s oesophagus is a condition where cells lining the food pipe (oesophagus) change and become abnormal. People with Barrett’s oesophagus are at a greater risk of developing cancer of the oesophagus.
Researchers at the University of Swansea identified a molecule called NF-kappaB that plays a part in the development of oesophageal cancer in people with Barrett’s oesophagus. They then carried out tests using curcumin, an ingredient of the Indian spice turmeric. They found that curcumin slowed down the activity of the NF-kappaB molecule. These tests took place in the laboratory. They wanted to find out if curcumin did the same in people with Barrett’s oesophagus.
Some of the people in this pilot study had curcumin tablets for a week and some didn’t. Both groups then had an endoscopy. The researchers compared the results of the test to see if curcumin reduced the activity of the NF-kappaB molecule. If this was found to work, a future study may aim to find out if curcumin slows down or reverses the development of Barrett’s oesophagus into oesophageal cancer.
Summary of results
The trial team found that curcumin was safe and may have some beneficial effect.
Of the 36 people this trial recruited, the researchers were able to analyse the results of 33. Of these 33
- 16 had curcumin daily for 7 days before their endoscopy
- 17 didn’t
The researchers took a small piece of tissue (
The trial team concluded that taking curcumin tablets may help people with Barrett’s oesophagus and a trial with a larger number of people needs to be done to confirm this.
We have based this summary on information from the team who ran the trial. The information they sent us has been reviewed by independent specialists (
How to join a clinical trial
Prof Gareth Jenkins
Professor J. N. Baxter
Swansea NHS Trust Research and Development Fund
University of Swansea GI Tract Molecular Pathology Research Group