US researchers have produced a therapeutic derived from turmeric, a spice long praised for its natural anti-inflammatory properties, that shows promise in decreasing ocular inflammation in dogs suffering from uveitis, an inflammation of the eye that leads to pain and reduced vision.
Uveitis is a leading cause of complications after cataract surgery in dogs. The management of postoperative ocular inflammation is a major challenge observed in both human and veterinary ophthalmology.
In a paper published in Science Advances, Dr Erin Scott, at the Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, and colleagues tested the anti-inflammatory properties of curcumin, a compound found in turmeric, and discovered that when processed to a special nanoparticle formulation to boost absorption, the natural compound is safe and effective at managing uveitis without any known side effects.
Oral medications currently used to treat uveitis must be adequately absorbed into the blood stream for their medicinal effects to be effective. This requires the medication to successfully pass through the intestinal barrier which limits the absorption of many drugs.
Drug delivery to the eye presents additional challenges because of the blood-ocular barrier which tightly controls what substances can pass into the eye.
Therefore, researchers must find ways to bypass such barriers to improve drug availability within the body.
This research implemented a novel formulation of curcumin that improved transport of the substance across both intestinal and ocular barriers. By adding nanoparticle molecules that interact with receptors on a ubiquitous transmembrane carrier protein, known as the transferrin receptor, curcumin is able to hitch a ride across crucial barriers, improving absorption of the substance and reducing ocular inflammation.