Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Haldi or turmeric has received a shot in the arm from the University of Hyderabad to become a more potent drug against cancers and Alzheimer’s disease

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad:  Haldi or turmeric has received a shot in the arm
from the University of Hyderabad to become a more potent drug against
cancers and Alzheimer’s disease.

Turmeric contains a unique chemical or bioactive agent called
curcumin. Unfortunately, curcumin has certain limitations, which
inhibit its efficacy in the development of drugs to fight cancer and
Alzheimer’s disease. A major limitation is its inability to dissolve
in water and survive in biological medium. Researchers from the
University of Hyderabad have now made curcumin a stronger drug agent
by removing its natural inhibitory factors. This will help in
preparation of solid dose curcumin drugs to cancer and Alzheimer’s
disease patients.

Prof Ashwini Nangia and his team from the School of Chemistry,
University of Hyderabad, developed a method to address the poor
solubility of curcumin, a potential drug candidate with diverse
pharmacological activity.

“Curcumin acts as anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anticancer and cure
for Alzheimer’s disease, but its potential as a drug is limited by
poor aqueous (water) solubility, low bioavailability, and short half
life in the biological medium. In drug development, the efficacy of
the active component must be enhanced by modifying it into a form that
has higher bioavailability and stability but without changing the
basic skeleton of the drug molecule,” Prof Ashwini told this

Prof. Nangia now plans to study the biological activity and cell
specificity of soluble curcumin co-crystals and eutectics for
anticancer therapy in collaboration with Life Science Incubator at IKP
Knowledge Park, Genome Valley in the city. The ecosystem of
biotech-pharma education, research, and innovation cluster in
Hyderabad is a key driver to this interdisciplinary program.

Prof Nangia’s team comprised Rajesh Goud, K Suresh, Palash Sanphui and
UB Rao Khandavilli. They prepared solid forms comprising curcumin that
is uniformly mixed with safe additives resulting in so-called eutectic

“The safe additives effectively enhance the solubility of curcumin by
virtue of their hydrophilic (water loving) nature. The crystalline
eutectic compositions showed no signs of transformation or degradation
at ambient conditions,” he said.

The latest results on curcumin eutectics will appear in the
International Journal of Pharmaceutics. Preliminary analysis of the
pharmacological properties of cocrystals and eutectics suggest that
they are more soluble than curcumin and could be suitable for solid
dose oral formulation.

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Syed Akbar at the 11th Conference of Parties to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity