Nano carriers

Nanoparticles which help deliver curcumin, a natural compound with potential to cure Alzheimer’s, to rat brain have been created

By Biplab Das
Published: Friday 31 January 2014

Curcumin is found in turmericRESEARCH by an Indian team could provide an important breakthrough in finding cure to Alzheimer’s disease. The team has successfully ferried curcumin, a natural compound found in turmeric, to rat brain by trapping it inside polymer nanoparticles. Curcumin has shown promise as a potential cure for neurodegenerative ailments such as Alzheimer’s, but delivering curcumin to the brain has been a challenge.

Studies have shown that only 15 per cent of curcumin consumed reaches the brain. A major part of it fails to cross the blood-brain barrier or the protective shield around the central nervous system. To overcome this, the researchers synthesised curcumin-loaded nanoparticles using a drug-releasing polymer, poly (lactic-co-glycolic) acid. They then studied the ability of these nanoparticles to release curcumin in rat brain. They also tested its biocompatibility and accumulation. The efficacy of the nanoparticles in helping regenerate neural stem cells (NSC) and in improving memory of rats was also studied. Neurodegenrative disorders rob the brain of its ability to regenerate nerve cells. NSC can help in such a scenario as they have the ability to form any type of nerve cell in the brain. In the experiment on NSC collected from rats, curcumin-loaded nanoparticles triggered proliferation of nerve cells.

When injected into an adult healthy rat, the nanoparticles slowly released curcumin, increasing bioavailability of curcumin in the brain. This suggests that the nanoparticles helped curcumin cross the blood-brain barrier. The researchers induced Alzheimer’s disease in rats by treating them with amyloid-beta proteins, known to cause the ailment. Curcumin-loaded nanoparticles inhibited beta amyloid-induced nerve degeneration in the rats, boosting their memory and learning. However, nanoparticles without curcumin showed no significant effect on learning and memory.

The study was conducted by researchers at the Indian Institute of Toxicology Research (IITR), Lucknow, Academy of Scientific and Innovative Research, New Delhi, and Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology, Delhi. They found that curcumin-loaded nanoparticles were 500 times more powerful in boosting nerve cell growth than pure curcumin, suggesting that polymer encapsulation helped curcumin stimulate cell growth. “In future, curcumin-loaded nanoparticles might be therapeutically used for treating neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease,” says Rajnish Kumar Chaturvedi from IITR, Lucknow. The study was published online in the journal ACS Nano on December 4, 2013.

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