Research Highlight

Curcumin-loaded nanocarriers stifle colon cancer

doi:10.1038/nindia.2015.74 Published online 1 June 2015

Researchers have synthesized curcumin-loaded lipopolysaccharide nanocarriers that slowly release curcumin to colon cancer cells1. They found that the nanocarriers are potentially useful for treating colon cancer patients as they inhibit cancer cell growth more effectively than aqueous solutions of pure curcumin.

Anticancer drugs used to treat colon cancer have toxic effects on the gastrointestinal tract, blood cells and nerve cells. To avoid such drug-induced toxicities, the researchers loaded lipopolysaccharide nanocarriers with the natural anticancer agent curcumin. They then compared curcumin-loaded nanocarriers’ efficacy to kill cancer cells with that of pure curcumin dissolved in water.

Using the curcumin-loaded nanocarriers, the scientists performed drug-release studies in phosphate buffer saline at a pH of 7.4. The nanocarriers released curcumin rapidly in the first 30 minutes. After 24 hours, they had released 80% of the loaded curcumin.

The researchers found that the curcumin-loaded nanocarriers inhibited the growth of cultured colon cancer cells and shrunk colon tumours in mice more effectively than pure curcumin. The nanocarriers formed net-like structures around the colon tumours and retarded their growth by slowly releasing curcumin.

The researchers hypothesize that the lipopolysaccharide is a complex mix of carbohydrates and lipids that protect curcumin from degradation in the small intestine and bloodstream, increasing the bioavailability and anticancer effects of curcumin.


1. Chaurasia, S. et al. Lipopolysaccharide based oral nanocarriers for the improvement of bioavailability and anticancer efficacy of curcumin. Carbohydr. Polymers 130, 9–17 (2015)