Herbal medicine is the basis of various traditional medicine systems around the world, whereby biologically active compounds naturally contained in plants are used in order to maintain or regain human health. Also a significant number of cancer therapeutics on the market today is based on natural products. Examples are paclitaxel, isolated from the Pacific yew tree; camptothecin, derived from the Chinese “happy tree” Camptotheca acuminataand, which is used to prepare irinotecan and topotecan; and combretastatin, derived from the South African bush willow. According to the World Health Organization’s essential medicine list, 11% of in total 252 drugs are exclusively of plant origin.

These examples and statistics alone are sufficient to indicate the fact that traditional herbal medicine contributes to the development of new pharmaceutics and assists the modern medicine in molecular level. Therefore, today in biological sciences, the biologically active compounds in herbal preparations are being extensively re-explored to facilitate more effective therapies and cures in particular to complex diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease and cancer.

However, direct use of the bioactive compounds is not always possible due to the physicochemical properties of the molecules. Factors like poor water solubility, low bioavailability and/or high degradation rate can limit the pharmaceutical benefits of a therapy.

To address these problems, we aim in our research to further explore the therapeutic effects of biologically active compounds by directly delivering them to cells via nanoparticular drug delivery systems (DDS). We are particularly interested in lipid-based nanocarrier systems such as emulsomes, because they have the potential to enhance the solubility and bioavailability of hydrophobic compounds. By prolonging the release of the incorporated bioactive compound, emulsomes can further allow for the application of a lower, more uniform dose over an extended period of time, thereby enhancing the efficacy of drug delivery. The use of DDS will enable the development of more effective and targeted therapies for diseases such as cancer.

 

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Research Focus

  • Nanobiotechnology
  • Drug Delivery Systems
  • Surface functionalization
  • Cell targeting
  • Lipid nanocarrier systems including emulsomes

Researchers

Dr. Mehmet Hikmet ÜÇIŞIK
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