Health Colombia Armenia, Quindío, Friday, April 12 of 2013, 15:29

Researchers make progress in studies about curcumin to treat dengue fever

The virus is endemic in a large share of the world population

AREANDINA/DICYT A group of researchers from the Coffee-Growing Axis (Eje Cafetero), in Colombia, makes progress in studies that aim to control dengue virus, currently considered a major health threatening disease in children, adolescents and adults. Dengue fever is a delicate and life threatening infectious disease; it is transmitted by mosquitoes within Aedes aegypti specie. When biting people, they trigger epidemic outbreaks in populations.

In this regard, the Department of Molecular Immunology of the Faculty of Healthcare Science (Facultad de Ciencias de la Salud) of the Universidad del Quindío, have embarked upon a study entitled Determinación del efecto antiviral de la curcumina frente al virus dengue en un modelo celular in vitro (Establishing Curcumin Antiviral Effect on Dengue Virus through an In Vitro Cellular Model).

The purpose is to prove curcumin’s efficacy. Curcumin is a food coloring extracted from Curcuma longa; found it curry powder, it is a popular spice in India. According to some studies, it may be useful in therapies against malaria, prevention of cervical cancer and may interfere with HIV virus replication.

“We have found that this food coloring is useful to fight several virus such as Hepatitis B virus and dengue virus. In this regard, we wanted to establish if curcumin was useful to treat dengue fever”, as researcher John Carlos Castaño told to DiCYT.

Using an in vitro cellular model, they aim to determine if curcumin is able to prevent virus from reproducing in cells. “We are also studying this food coloring mechanism to make it useful in dengue fever treatment. In order to obtain some results, we are using microscopy, psycometry and lighting techniques to determine whether this product works out or not”, as we were told by Castaño. He also stated that the study is sponsored by Colciencias (Departamento Administrativo de Ciencia, Tecnología e innovación, an administrative department for science, technology and innovation) and by the Universidad del Quindío.

Before establishing the dosing in humans, they should test curcumin on animal models and verify whether it is safe or not, in order to avoid toxicity. “We are on the track. We regrettably have found that curcumin is not well absorbed; a large amount of the coloring stays in the intestinal tract and it is discarded by the organism. We also need to figure out a better absorption mechanism so the coloring effectively gets to infected cells”, as Castaño stated.

The team expects to obtain results as soon as possible to bring an alternative to prevent dengue fever, improving health all around the world.

Dengue-Transmitting Mosquitoes

These mosquitoes can be found in water containers in houses or surroundings: flower holders, abandoned tires in yards or any vase containing water. Mosquitoes use these places to leave their eggs, triggering the virus transmission.