Glaucoma, a group of eye diseases, affects millions of people worldwide and may rob them of their vision if left untreated. These are characterized by the loss of a special type of retinal cells called retinal ganglion cells in humans as well as in animals. Research have largely focused on inhibiting the loss of these cells as early as possible but found limited success. The chemical curcumin, a key curcuminoid of turmeric, has emerged as a potential candidate for retarding neurodegeneration, prominent in a spectrum of eye and brain conditions. Finding ways to administer it in better ways other than orally may increase the bioavailability of the compound and hence its efficacy, especially benefitting a rapidly aging population. A team of researchers from Imperial College London and University College London (UCL) has recently demonstrated a method to administer curcumin extracted from turmeric to treat the early signs of glaucoma. The turmeric derivative will be delivered to patients as eye drops using novel nanocarrier and the method is more effective than the current ones, claims the researchers.
The findings are recently published in the journal Scientific Reports, Nature.
Curcumin Could Retard or Stop Loss of Retinal Cells in Rats
The study first tested the formulation on model glaucoma cells and found it safe. The product was then administered on rats affected with rapid loss of retinal ganglion cell loss. After three weeks of its use twice daily, the researchers found that the loss of cells stopped completely or slowed down markedly compared to the control subjects. Furthermore, what was encouraging about the therapy was that curcumin didn’t cause any eye irritation or inflammation in the rats, rendering it completely safe, reported the researchers.
Nanocarrier Used Enhances Efficacy of Drug, Might Prove Promising for Diagnosing Alzheimer’s
The oral administration of curcumin has been beset with several constraints such as poor solubility and the risk of side effects if the medication was continued for prolonged period. Hence there was need for better ways of delivery of the drug. Researchers reported that the nanocarrier used in their study was effective to deliver large doses of the drug, and further amplified its solubility by as much as 400,000 times. With such a huge potential the compound has, the researchers now want to use it to diagnose Alzheimer’s, apart from exploring other diagnostic applications. The eye drops bodes well for designing simple, non-invasive test for detecting early signs of neurodegeneration, believes one of the leading authors of the study.