Microemulsions are translucent and isotropic emulsions with thermodynamic stability and droplet size of less than 100 nm. It is a promising oral delivery system for highly lipophilic drug molecules like curcumin to enhance the oral bioavailability and pharmacological activity. Curcumin is an extensively used spice and colouring agent in food, as well as a lipophilic polyphenol with multiple therapeutic efficacies e.g., anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anticarcinogenic activities. An increase in food or beverage intake during cancer chemotherapy may promote the quality of life of patients. Therefore, this project aims to prepare curcumin-loaded microemulsions which can be consumed as a nutraceutical or functional beverage with improved oral bioavailability and anticancer activity. Curcumin, vegetable oils, food-grade surfactants, co-surfactants, and water will be used to fabricate the microemulsion via self-assembly. The stability and encapsulation efficiency of microemulsions will be characterised. The release of curcumin from above microemulsions will be evaluated using in vitro gastrointestinal digestive model and simulated lymphatic transport. In vitro cell-based assay will be conducted to study the cellular intake and cytotoxicity of curcumin incubated with cancer cell.
Functional food, microencapsulation, drug delivery, nanoparticles for cancer therapy
This project is based on new collaborative works between the food researchers (Qianyu Ye) and the NanoBiotechnology research group (Sophia Gu). This collaboration will be the ideal environment for discovering both food science and biomedical engineering. The student will have the access to well-equipped laboratories with experimental facilities, work in a multidisciplinary and world-leading research environment, and learn various functional skills to facilitate future career in academia or industry (Food and Pharma).
The student is expected to gain experience in functional food development, microencapsulation technology, drug delivery technology, and nano-biotechnology, which are extensively used technologies in the food & pharmaceutical industry. The research is anticipated to lead to a publication in a peer-reviewed journal with the student as co-author. The project will also allow the student to work with other research students to gain valuable interdisciplinary experience.