Curcumin can be delivered to the body via nanoparticles
Curry lovers rejoice — an international team of researchers has shown how the active compound in turmeric, curcumin, can now be delivered effectively into human cells via tiny nanoparticles.
Curcumin is said to contain anti-inflammatory properties, but the failure of the body to easily absorb the compound has been a thorn in the side of medical researchers seeking scientific proof that curcumin can successfully treat cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s and many other chronic health conditions. Now, researchers from the University of South Australia (UniSA), McMaster University and Texas A&M University have developed a nano formulation that changes curcumin’s behaviour to increase its oral bioavailability by 117%.
The researchers have shown in animal experiments that nanoparticles containing curcumin not only prevent cognitive deterioration but also reverse the damage. Their findings, published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences and Drug Delivery and Translational Research (part I and part II), pave the way for clinical development trials for Alzheimer’s.
“Curcumin is a compound that suppresses oxidative stress and inflammation, both key pathological factors for Alzheimer’s, and it also helps remove amyloid plaques — small fragments of protein that clump together in the brains of Alzheimer disease patients,” said UniSA neuroscientist Professor Xin-Fu Zhou.
The same delivery method is now being tested to show that curcumin can also prevent the spread of genital herpes, with UniSA Professor Sanjay Garg noting, “Curcumin can stop the genital herpes virus — it helps in reducing the inflammation and makes it less susceptible to HIV and other STIs.
“To treat genital herpes (HSV-2) you need a form of curcumin that is better absorbed, which is why it needs to be encapsulated in a nano formulation.”
Women are biologically more vulnerable to genital herpes as bacterial and viral infections in the female genital tract (FGT) impair the mucosal barrier. Curcumin, however, can minimise genital inflammation and control against HSV-2 infection, which would assist in the prevention of HIV infection in the FGT. The new delivery method is therefore well positioned to help prevent and treat a range of diseases.
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