New Delhi, Sep 23, 2019: Indian scientists have found out that BCG — the world’s only vaccine against tuberculosis (TB) — can be made more effective if the nano-particles of curcumin, the main component of popular kitchen spice turmeric, are used in tandem with the shot.
The discovery, scientists say, open up a new window to tackle drug-resistant tuberculosis, one of the world’s biggest public health threats that kills lakhs every year.
Biologists at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi, were looking for ways to improve the existing treatment options for TB when they turned their attention to nano-curcumin, an ultra-small version of the wonder chemical that lies at the core of the kitchen spice, known to harbour many medicinal properties.
“We have shown that a booster dose of BCG together with nano-curcumin gives superior vaccine efficacy. This opens up a new area of vaccine research and has huge implications. We are ready for clinical trials,” team leader Gobardhan Das from JNU’s Special Centre for Molecular Medicine told DH.
Discovered in 1921, BCG is the world’s sole TB vaccine, but it only protects children, and that too, with varying efficacy.
In their experiments aimed at enhancing the vaccine’s efficiency, the researchers first injected laboratory mice with BCG vaccine and subsequently gave them nano-curcumin shots for 30 days. The JNU team collaborated with KITT University, Bhubaneswar, and Vanderbilt University, Tennessee, USA, to source the nano-curcumin and analyse the results.
When they measured biochemical parameters to examine the immune responses, they found an improvement in the vaccine’s efficacy. Nano-curcumin not only creates an environment conducive for priming and activating the cells that fight the enemy but also enhances the production of two key immune cells.
“Curcumin nano-particles hold promise for enhancing the efficacy of TB vaccines,” the team reported in Infection and Immunity, a journal published by the American Society for Microbiology. “This is a significant result with the potential to address a critical unmet need in TB vaccine development,” said Anand Ranganathan, a JNU scientist and a member of the team.