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Two-phase aqueous systems as platforms for encapsulation of curcumin in mixed polymeric micelles containing triblock amphiphilic copolymers

Grant number: 23/11166-9
Support Opportunities:Scholarships in Brazil - Scientific Initiation
Effective date (Start): November 01, 2023
Effective date (End): October 31, 2024
Field of knowledge:Engineering - Biomedical Engineering - Bioengineering
Principal Investigator:André Moreni Lopes
Grantee:Nádia Gonçalves de Andrade
Host Institution: Escola de Engenharia de Lorena (EEL). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). Lorena , SP, Brazil


Curcumin (CCM) is a biomolecule with immense potential in the clinical-therapeutic realm due to its notable properties: anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antitumor, and antioxidant. Nevertheless, it exhibits poor solubility in aqueous environments, resulting in limited bioavailability upon administration into the bloodstream. To harness its therapeutic attributes, a nanobiotechnological approach can be employed by encapsulating the molecule within polymeric micelles (PMs), thereby enhancing its solubility and stability. In this context, nanoscale micellar structures can be formed in aqueous environments using triblock amphiphilic copolymers. Particularly intriguing in this regard is the Pluronics® family, which possesses a low critical micelle concentration ensuring stable MPs even in highly diluted solutions. Our research proposal involves utilizing aqueous biphasic systems (ABS) - a solvent-free approach that is more environmentally sustainable compared to conventional methods - for nanostructure formation, biomolecule extraction, and encapsulation. However, a limitation arises: the amphiphilic copolymers used for micelle formation through ABS necessitate high temperatures for phase separation, often requiring elevated cloud point values exceeding 100 °C, as observed with Pluronic F127. A strategy to overcome this challenge is the combination of Pluronics with different characteristics to produce mixed PMs, which could significantly reduce cloud point values. In this project, we will investigate blends of Pluronics (F127 + L121) to determine optimal extraction parameters, curcumin encapsulation rates, efficiencies, and stability under varying temperatures and durations. Additionally, we will examine the in vitro release profile of CCM from MPs and evaluate the antimicrobial efficacy of CCM-PMs against both Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria.

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