Newswise – Safe, localized treatment for chronic inflammation in the intestinal tract will go one step further to help patients lower their risk of developing colon cancer, thanks to a $ 433,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health on three years granted to Professor Hemachand Tummala of the South Dakota State University Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences.
Current treatments for inflammatory bowel disease, such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, can have life-threatening side effects and inconsistent results. Therefore, said Tummala, “there is an urgent need for safer, targeted therapies that deposit the drug in the intestinal tract.” He and his research group have developed a patented formulation that unleashes the anti-inflammatory power of curcumin in the colon, reducing inflammation and even healing wounds or ulcers in proof-of-concept testing in mouse models.
Thanks to the NIH grant, Tummala will continue to work with Dr. Amar B. Singh, gastrointestinal biochemist and professor at the University of Nebraska Medical Center and researcher at the Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center in Omaha, to perform tests. preclinical formulation, known as Ora-Curcumin S. Researchers will evaluate the efficacy of the formulation in several mouse models of inflammatory bowel disease. SDSU will receive approximately $ 260,000 through the NIH project.
“In my conversations with clinicians who have first-hand experience with IBD patients, I have found that the use of curcumin for these patients is rated as very good. My partnership with Dr Tummala is a good step towards achieving this bench-to-bedside goal. I am excited about the future prospects of our collaboration, ”said Singh.
Colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in American men and women combined, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In addition, colorectal cancer is now the leading cause of cancer death in Americans under 50, according to the NIH National Cancer Institute. Half of these young adults with colorectal cancer have a chronic disease that can cause inflammation of the gut.
Most patients with inflammatory bowel disease are diagnosed in their 20s and 30s, according to statistics from the CDC. Therefore, developing effective ways to reduce or manage inflammation could change the lives of these patients and also reduce their risk of colon cancer.
Unleash the anti-inflammatory power of curcumin
Curcumin is the main component of turmeric, the yellow spice that flavors Indian curry and is a strong and safe natural anti-inflammatory, Tummala explained. However, accessing the anti-inflammatory benefits of curcumin is difficult because it does not dissolve in water, so the body cannot absorb it.
Using polymers tested by the Food and Drug Administration, Tummala and his research group were able to make curcumin 2,000 to 3,000 times more soluble and stable in water. In addition, the Ora-Curcumin S formulation does not dissolve until it reaches the last parts of the intestine, including the colon.
“The formulation does not pass any curcumin into the bloodstream and only releases it into the lumen of the colon for spot treatment,” he said.
Through extensive preliminary studies, Tummala and Singh found that healthy mice that started receiving the Ora-Curcumin-S formulation two days before being subjected to a chemical causing symptoms, such as ulcers, bleeding and diarrhea, similar to ulcerative colitis patients, had less colon damage and inflammation. The results were published in the Journal of Controlled Release.
Additional testing through a $ 14,537 grant from the SDSU Research, Scholarship and Creative Activity Challenge Fund helped Tummala strengthen the NIH grant proposal.
The formulation worked on healthy mice, but it didn’t provide an accurate representation of a patient, Tummala explained. Therefore, he and Singh tested the curcumin formulation on mice with ulcerative colitis. They saw the curcumin formulation actually attached to sores or ulcers in the inflamed colon.
“When the formulation dissolves, the polymer adheres to or covers the ulcers,” Tummala said. “It’s like applying ointment to the colon.”
In addition, the researchers compared the effects of unformulated curcumin and Ora-Curcumin S at lower doses than in the original proof-of-concept study. “We found doses (of Ora-Curcumin S) three to 10 times lower than what others have already reported for curcumin’s effectiveness,” he said. “These experiences have improved our grant potential, and the investment has yielded major benefits.”
Another major goal of the grant is to improve exposure to research and training for South Dakota students. Two doctoral students and several undergraduates will work on the project receiving training in biomedical research and drug discovery.
Tummala concluded, “This NIH project will not only establish a pathway, for the first time, for clinical testing of this local curcumin-based therapy, but will also advance new delivery technology targeting inflammation for other medicines to treat inflammatory bowel disease.