Curcumin can now be delivered effectively into human cells via tiny nanoparticles

March 11, 2020

Curcumin, the active compound of the anti-inflammatory spice turmeric, has never been able to be absorbed easily by the human body; medical researchers claim that doing so can successfully treat many chronic health conditions, including cancer and heart disease. An international research team has now made that possible with the development of a nano-formulation which changes curcumin’s behaviour to increase its oral bioavailability by a whopping 117%.

Aside from the new absorption properties, the nano-formulation can even prevent and reverse cognitive decline associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Professor Xin-Fu Zhou, a neuroscientist from the University of South Australia (UniSA) and part of the team, explains that the new formulation offers a potential solution for Alzheimer’s disease.

“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,” Prof Zhou said.

The nano-formulation is also being tested as a way to prevent the spread of genital herpes. Women are biologically more vulnerable to genital herpes as infections in the female genital tract (FGT) impair its mucosal barrier. Curcumin, then, can minimise genital inflammation and control against HSV-2 infection, which would ultimately prevent HIV infection in the FGT.

Pharmaceutical scientist at UniSA, Professor Sanjay Garg, said effectively treating genital herpes would need a finer form of curcumin. Therefore, the encapsulated curcumin “can stop the genital herpes virus by reducing FGT inflammation and making it less susceptible to HIV and other STIs.”



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