April 1st, 2023 – Molecule of the Day: Curcumin
Curcumin is a component of tumeric, and is sold as an herbal supplement, cosmetics ingredient, food flavoring, and food coloring.
The molecule is one of the most widely studied therapeutics in history, with papers, reviews, patents, and other sources citing its potential for treating cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, hangovers, erectile dysfunction, baldness, infertility, fertility, and any other ailment you can think of.
Curcumin is described as a PAINS molecule, or a “Powerfully Active Ingredient kNown to Scientists.” Its biological activities are indisputable – in vitro, it covalently labels proteins, chelates metals, does “the redox,” aggregates proteins of all shapes and sizes, makes assay plates glow in the dark, disrupts membranes, and more.
There are over 1000 analogs of curcumin published across 9000 publications and 500 patents, with almost 50 new manuscripts related to curcuminoids published weekly. Federal funds exceeding $150 million have been awarded for projects linked to the study of curcumin in medicine.
With >120 clinical trials having been listed for curcumin, this represents remarkably efficient government spending at $1.25M per clinical candidate, far below costs projected by industry.
Remarkably, the molecule is able to achieve all of its in vivo effects with ‘abysmal’ T1/2 <5 min and oral bioavailability < 1%. As Paul Ehrlich famously said on his deathbed, “PK/PD is for ninnies.”
Curcumin was selected today over ivermectin because innocent people may take this seriously.
NOTE: In Western countries, April 1st is celebrated as “April Fool’s Day.“ This satirical article is not an endorsement of curcumin as a supplement or drug.