New study links tumeric to tissue growth

Adeze Ojukwu

A new study by scientists has reported regenerative properties in tumeric, a popular culinary spice.

Researchers from University of California(UC), United States of America (USA), said their research showed that ‘turmeric compound can support growth of engineered blood vessels and tissues.’

The results were published in ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces, in a paper entitled “Angiogenic hyaluronic acid hydrogels with curcumin-coated magnetic nanoparticles for tissue repair.”

Science Daily  noted that this finding “could hasten development of lab-grown blood vessels and other tissues to replace and regenerate damaged tissues in human patients.”

Cell regeneration is an evolving branch of medicine, with high prospects for organ repair and growth.

“Magnetic hydrogels embedded with curcumin-coated nanoparticles promote the secretion of vascular endothelial growth factor,” they stated.

Curcumin, a compound found in turmeric, has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties and is known to suppress angiogenesis in malignant tumors.

They “discovered that when delivered through magnetic hydrogels into stem cell cultures this versatile compound paradoxically also promotes the secretion of vascular endothelial growth factor, or VEGF, that helps vascular tissues grow.”

Curcumin’s possible use for vascular regeneration has been suspected for some time but has not been well studied.

Huinan Liu, a bioengineering professor in UCR’s Marlan and Rosemary Bourns College of Engineering, led a project to investigate curcumin’s regenerative properties by “coating magnetic iron oxide nanoparticles, with the compound and mixing them into a biocompatible hydrogel.”

“When cultured with stem cells derived from bone marrow, the magnetic hydrogel gradually released the curcumin without injuring the cells. Compared to hydrogels embedded with bare nanoparticles, the group of hydrogels loaded with curcumin-coated nanoparticles showed a higher amount of VEGF secretion.”

Co-author, Changlu Xu, a doctoral candidate in Liu’s group who focused on hydrogel research, said “our study shows that curcumin released from magnetic hydrogels promotes the cells to secrete VEGF, which is one of the most critical growth factors to enhance the formation of new blood vessels.”

The researchers also “took advantage of the nanoparticles’ magnetism to see if they could direct the nanoparticles to desired locations in the body.”

“They placed some of the curcumin-coated nanoparticles in a tube behind pieces of fresh pig tissue and used a magnet to successfully direct movement of the nanoparticles.”

The achievement suggests the method could eventually be used to deliver curcumin to help heal or regenerate injured tissue.

Liu was joined in the research by her graduate students Radha Daya, Changlu Xu, and Nhu-Y. Thi Nguyen at UC Riverside.

Turmeric, as defined by WebMD, “is a common spice that comes from the root of Curcuma longa. It contains a chemical called curcumin, which might reduce swelling.

Botanically called, Curcuma longa, the root vegetable, belongs to the ginger family, Zingiberaceae, and its rhizomes are used in cooking.

It has a warm, bitter taste and is frequently used to flavor or color curry powders, butters and cheeses.

Curcumin and other chemicals in turmeric might decrease swelling, hence it is often used to treat conditions that involve pain and inflammation.”

It is also generally used for osteoarthritis, hay fever, depression, high cholesterol, a type of liver disease, and itching, but there is no good scientific evidence to support most of these uses.”

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