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Conundrum and therapeutic potential of curcumin in drug delivery.

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Department of Pharmaceutics, Faculty of Pharmacy, Hamdard University (Jamia Hamdard), New Delhi-62, India.


Turmeric, the source of the polyphenolic active compound curcumin (diferuloylmethane), has been used extensively in traditional medicine since ancient times as a household remedy against various diseases, including hepatic disorders, cough, sinusitis, rheumatism, and biliary disorders. In the past few decades, a number of studies have been done on curcumin showing its potential role in treating inflammatory disorders, cardiovascular disease, cancer, AIDS, and neurological disorders. However, the main drawback associated with curcumin is its poor aqueous solubility and stability in gastrointestinal fluids, which leads to poor bioavailability. Multifarious novel drug-delivery approaches, including microemulsions, nanoemulsions, liposomes, solid lipid nanoparticles, microspheres, solid dispersion, polymeric nanoparticles, and self-microemulsifying drug-delivery systems have been used to enhance the bioavailability and tissue-targeting ability of curcumin. These attempts have revealed promising results for enhanced bioavailability and targeting to disease such as cancer, but more extensive research on tissue-targeting and stability-related issues is needed. Tissue targeting and enhanced bioavailability of curcumin using novel drug-delivery methods with minimum side effects will in the near future bring this promising natural product to the forefront of therapy for the treatment of human diseases such as cancer and cardiovascular ailments. We provide a detailed analysis of prominent research in the field of curcumin drug delivery with special emphasis on bioavailability-enhancement approaches and novel drug-delivery system approaches.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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