Created Effective Drug Carrier for Alzheimer's Treatment

Innovation is patented and was recently published as a cover theme in the scientific journal “Journal of Controlled Release”

A study coordinated by the School of Sciences of the University of Minho (ECUM) has discovered an effective method to transport drugs to the brain, which may eventually attenuate the progression and symptoms of diseases such as Alzheimer's. The innovation is patented and was recently published as a cover theme in the scientific journal “Journal of Controlled Release”.

Scientists know that curcumin, a substance found in turmeric (turmeric), improves people's memory and attention and reduces the appearance of microscopic plaques that form in the brain of people with Alzheimer's. However, curcumin's poor solubility causes it to be poorly absorbed by the intestines when administered orally, in addition to being eliminated from the human bloodstream. One possible solution is to use liposomes (lipid nanoparticles) to encapsulate and transport curcumin to the central nervous system.

Specifically, scientists at the University of Minho (UMinho) have developed a new type of liposome, with a mixture of lipids that mimics components of human cells, capable of encapsulating curcumin efficiently, without toxicity and with the appropriate size to cross the blood-brain barrier, which protects the brain from harmful substances in the blood and prevents the passage of 98% of drugs. The researchers confirmed these results in a zebrafish model and without recording any side effects. With this innovation, it is believed to be able to slow the progression and alleviate the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease.

The next step in the investigation is being thought out. "This study is recent and we have a patent at the national level, but now we need funding to move internationally and also to explore the potential of this innovation in other diseases and other non-therapeutic perspectives that have social or commercial interest", explains Andreia Gomes, co-author of the study, professor and researcher at the Department of Biology at ECUM.

The investigation was carried out by Ivo Lopes, Mário Fernandes, Luana Magalhães, Raul Machado, Cláudia Botelho and Andreia Gomes, from the Molecular and Environmental Biology Center (CBMA), João Carlos Sousa, from the Life and Health Sciences Research Institute ( ICVS), José Teixeira, from the Biological Engineering Center (CEB), all from UMinho, and Marisa Sárria, from the International Iberian Nanotechnology Laboratory (INL).