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September 11, 2020

Turmeric -- the spice -- can help a puppy dog's eyes...and maybe ours too

Findings show that turmeric, a spice, shows promise in decreasing ocular inflammation in dogs suffering from uveitis. Researchers at Texas A&M University, with support from the National Science Foundation, believe their findings may also translate to treatment of cataracts and uveitis in humans.

Credit: National Science Foundation/Karson Productions

Turmeric challenge

I'm Bob Karson with the Discovery Files, from the National Science Foundation.

(Sound effect: Indian riff) Turmeric (ter-mer-ik), an essential spice in many cuisines, is also known for anti-inflammatory properties. Researchers at Texas A&M have developed a method of delivery of curcumin (KER-kyew-min), the active compound in turmeric, that shows promise for treating severe canine uveitis (yoo·vee·EYE-·tuhs) -- a serious painful eye inflammation in doggos that can reduce vision. Also found in humans.

Current treatments usually involve steroids or anti-inflammatories with a boatload of possible side effects -- while treating with curcumin has no known side effects.

For oral meds to be sufficiently absorbed into the blood stream and make it all the way to the eye, they must meet and beat the challenges of several barriers (Sound effect: Jedi gladiator-type music) -- the intestinal barrier, that shields the circulatory system from the gut. (Sound effect: thumping music outside a club) Then the blood-ocular barrier, the 'bouncer' that keeps riff-raff out of the eye.

(Sound effect: bullet train) By creating a special nanoparticle formulation, the team found a way to scoot by the barriers by having molecules rideshare on a transmembrane carrier protein. (Sound effect: sound of subway air doors opening) Enough meds arrive at the eye and get right to work.

The team's findings may accelerate more effective treatments for cataracts and uveitis in humans.

Our best friends (Sound effect: bark!) -- helping see us through again. (Sound effect: bark!) Good boy!

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