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Patent Awarded for Curry Compound as Drug Ingredient

Chawnshang Chang (University of Rochester)

Chawnshang Chang (University of Rochester)

A patent has been awarded for compounds based on a substance in the spices curry and turmeric, to use in treatments for a number of diseases, including some cancers. Patent number 8,198,323 was awarded yesterday by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to nine inventors, and assigned to University of Rochester in New York, University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, and AndroScience Corporation in San Diego.

The patent covers compounds based on curcumin, an ingredient of the spices turmeric and curry, used to treat conditions involving the androgen receptor, a molecule through which the hormone testosterone acts in both men and women. Cancer researcher Chawnshang Chang (pictured right) at University of Rochester Medical Center and one of the inventors on the patent, has conducted extensive studies on curcumin and its potential biomedical benefits.

As described in the patent, curcumin-based molecules have the potential for treating conditions related to the androgen receptor such as prostate, bladder, and liver cancer, as well as acne, baldness, enlarged prostate, and excessive growth of body hair. Chang is developing molecules known as androgen receptor degradation enhancers that degrade the androgen receptor, in order to treat conditions like prostate cancer and acne more effectively, with fewer side effects, than some current medications.

Chang’s work at Rochester is licensed to AndroScience Corp., a biotechnology company co-founded by Chang, and in which the university owns a stake. The company has androgen receptor drugs in the pipeline including treatments for acne and male pattern baldness, as well as prostate and bladder cancer, and an orphan drug for spinal bulbar muscular atrophy, also known as Kennedy’s disease.

Chang, a native of Taiwan, says that for centuries, curcumin has been used to treat a variety of ills in Asia. He notes that ginger, a family of spices that includes curcumin, is widely used in China as a folk medicine to treat male-pattern baldness.

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