UC Riverside bioengineers have found something that can hasten the development of lab-grown blood vessels and other tissues to replace and regenerate damaged tissues in human patients. The study was published in ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces.
Curcumin is a compound found in turmeric which has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It is also known to suppress angiogenesis in malignant tumors. Scientists have 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 which aids 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, has 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.
The magnetic hydrogel gradually released the curcumin without injuring the cells, when cultured with stem cells derived from bone marrow. The group of hydrogels loaded with curcumin-coated nanoparticles showed a higher amount of VEGF secretion, when compared to hydrogels embedded with bare nanoparticles.
Scientists 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. They also 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.