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Nanotechnology Applied to Ginger Offers Novel Treatment for Bowel Disease

NANOPARTICLES derived from ginger have been used to produce a beneficial effect in the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), offering a novel approach provides an alternative to conventional treatments that could easily be developed for large-scale production due to its relatively low cost.

Scientists used ginger-derived nanoparticles (GDNPs), to reduce the severity of acute ulcerative colitis, enhance intestinal repair, and prevent chronic colitis and colitis-associated cancer in mouse models. To prepare for the study, the team led by Dr Didier Merlin, Institute for Biomedical Sciences, Georgia State University, Atlanta, Georgia, USA, first visited local farmers’ markets to find fresh ginger root. Afterwards in the laboratory, the ginger was ground up in a blender to obtain juice before being centrifuged, creating a pellet by ultrasonic dispersion which resulted in the GDNPs that were then orally administered to the mice. Lipids, proteins, and large amounts of bioactive compounds from ginger were the main constituents of these GDNPs.

Dr Merlin’s team found the particles to be non-toxic and were mainly taken up by intestinal epithelial cells (IECs) and macrophages once administered. GDNPs were found to increase the survival and proliferation of IECs, reduce pro-inflammatory cytokines, and increase anti-inflammatory cytokines in colitis models. This suggested that the nanoparticles were able to promote healing while simultaneously attenuating damaging factors.

Ginger root is a widely used natural product with various medical applications, including for the treatment of nausea, diarrhoea, and dyspepsia. In previous research, active components of ginger in these GDNPs, 6-gingerol and 6-shogaol, have been found to offer anti-oxidative, anti-inflammatory, and anti-cancer benefits. In this latest research, scientists have shown how utilising ginger with nanotechnology could lead to an effective therapeutic strategy for both the treatment of IBD and colitis-associated cancer. The authors of the study suggested that the high levels of lipids in the nanoparticles could be the reason that they are so effective in this capacity.

These naturally-sourced GDNPs also have the potential for large-scale production after the researchers found they had a high production yield compared to synthesised nanoparticles. Nanoparticles themselves are also designed to deliver low doses of drugs therefore avoiding unnecessary side effects in the rest of the body. Furthermore, the natural source of the particle makes the product safer and more cost-effective. The team noted the potential application of manufacturing other plants into medical nanoparticles, which could offer further opportunities in the treatment of IBD.

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