Solutions of curcumin (left) and nanocurcumin (right) in equal amounts. Credit: Johns Hopkins University.
Curcumin, an element found in the cooking spice turmeric has long been known to have positive effects against certain types of cancer. Effective treatments based on curcumin however have been limited due to its poor dissolving capabilities in water based substances, leading to low absorption rates when ingested. Researchers affiliated with the Institute for NanoBioTechnology at Johns Hopkins University report to have overcome this problem by encapsulating free curcumin with a polymeric nanoparticle, creating nanocurcumin.
In a recent publication in the Journal of Nanobiotechnology the researchers report the increased solubility of nanocurcumin over free curcumin. In tests on pancreatic cancer cells the new agent proved just as effective as free curcumin. According to the researchers no evidence of toxicity was found in tests with empty versions of the polymeric nanoparticle. Their findings show no evidence of weight loss, organ changes, or behavioral changes in live mice after administering a relatively large dosage of the empty nanoparticle.
Further research on the use of nanocurcumin in the fight against cancer and other diseases in which the benefits of curcumin have been suggested, such as Alzheimer and cystic fibrosis, is needed say the researchers.
Co-authors include: Savita Bisht, Georg Feldmann, Sheetal Soni, Rajani Ravi, Collins Karikar, Amarnath Maitra, and Anirban Maitra from Johns Hopkins and the University of Delhi.