Novel strategies for the enhancement of the potency of nutraceuticals with low oral bioavailability and their application in novel functional foods for optimum protection of the aging brain
Curcumin is a nutraceutical currently intensively investigated for its potential use as a therapeutic or preventive agent against a number of degenerative diseases, including cancer and Alzheimer's disease. Curcumin is the coloring agent derived from the root of the plant Curcuma longa and gives the yellow color to the spice curry, in which it is found in significant amounts. It is also commonly used, under the designation "E 100", as a coloring agent by the food industry.
Because of its potent health beneficial activities, such as antiinflammatory, antioxidant, and anticancer effects, to name only a few, researchers have attempted to enhance the uptake and retention of the phytochemical in the body. Curcumin, however, remains a very difficult compound to detect in the body (see our recent publication in Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry as an example), because it is taken up into the body to a limited extent and subsequently rapidly metabolised and excreted from the organism. Hence, an important question in this context remains largely unanswered: Could the health beneficial activities of curcumin be enhanced if more of the active compound would reach the site of action, e.g. the brain?
To answer this and a number of related questions, Dr. Frank (University of Hohenheim) coordinates a research network consisting of five academic and five industry partners, which is financially supported by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research with ca. € 1.5 M. The project started August 1, 2010 and will go on for three years.
The project aims to develop novel strategies to enhance the bioavailability and retention of curcumin in the organism and to study their impact on the pharmacokinetics, biological activities, and the safety of the nutraceutical. The novel curcumin-formulations developed within this project will then be tested for their suitability as ingredients in a range of different functional foods.
The work packages of this research network are lead by Prof. Dr. Frank from the Department of Nutrition and Food Sciences at the University of Bonn (formerly at the Institute of Biological Chemistry and Nutrition at Hohenheim University), PD Dr. Gunter Eckert from the Department of Pharmacology at the Johann-Wolfgang-Goethe University, Dr. Jakob Weissenberger from the Department of Neurosurgery at the University Hospital of the Johann-Wolfgang-Goethe University (Frankfurt/Main), Prof. Dr. Gerald Rimbach from the Institute of Human Nutrition and Food Science at Christian-Albrechts-University in Kiel, Prof. Dr. Tilman Grune from the Institute of Human Nutrition at the Friedrich-Schiller-University in Jena, Dariush Behnam, CEO of Aquanova AG, Dr. Josef Jandasek, Senior product developer at Raps GmbH & Co KG, Kalle Debus, Product Manager at Hassia Mineralquellen, Dr. Carola Funk, General Manager R&D at Kampffmeyer Food Innovation, and Dr. Berit Adolphi of Schwartauer Werke.
The research project in the media
The newspaper Stuttgarter Zeitung published an article (in German) about the research network coordinated by Dr. Frank, which investigates novel strategies to improve the bioavailability of curcumin and their impact on the health beneficial properties of the nutraceutical. The online version of the article can be read here [05/01/2011].
The radio channel NDR Info aired a segment on the health beneficial properties of curcumin and the BMBF-funded research network coordinated by Dr. Frank in the show Logo - Das Wissenschaftsmagazin on January 7, 2011.
The Frankfurter Rundschau published an article about the joint-research project on curcumin and, in particular, the work packages of Drs Eckert and Weissenberger at the University of Frankfurt [27/12/2010].
The Frankfurter Neue Presse published an article about the work packages that are performed at the University of Frankfurt and investigate the effects of curcumin on mitochondrial function and tumor-suppression within the BMBF-funded research network [20/12/2010].
Press release of the University of Frankfurt, published 16/12/2010
Press release of the University of Hohenheim, published 08/12/2010
Participating researchers and industry partners and their contact information
Aquanova AG, Darmstadt
Dr. Josef Jandasek
Raps GmbH, Kulmbach
Hassia Mineralquellen AG, Bad Vilbel
Dr. Carola Funk
Kampffmeyer Food Innovation, Hamburg
Dr. Berit Adolphi
Schwartauer Werke, Bad Schwartau