The company’s new nutraceutical product is called Curcusome, a lipsomal encapsulation of curcumin, a formulation approach that deals with that molecule’s well-known poor absorption profile. The principal reason for its poor absorption is that curcumin dissolves poorly in water.
“When you take what we call ‘naked’ curcumin and mix it with water, you would see all these particles that just sit on top of the water. If you ingest it and you did a fecal analysis, you would see the curcumin just passes through your body,” Mirafzali told NutraIngredients-USA.
Sealed in a cap
Encapsula’s technique forms the curcumin into nano-sized particles that are held in a drink cap. The end user attaches the cap to a water bottle or beverage of their choice, breaks the seal and mixes the liposome formulation in.
“We are using the liposome as a solubility aid. One problem with liposomes is their stability. They are fairly fragile. In order to have a liposome you have to have water, and with water you have to have pasteurization. Liposomes can’t take flash pasteurization, and if they are in water for a while they tend to get hydrolyzed. You have a much smaller market if you have to refrigerate your product. So we took the approach of freeze drying our product. Once the powder hits the water the liposomes are formed instantly,” Mirafzali said.
Mirafzali said the liposome technology improves the curcumin’s bioavailabilty significantly. In addition to the phospholipid formulation, the bioavailability is improved with the addition of piperine and quercitin. These molecules work to counteract enzymes in the gut which tend to change the curcuminoids into an inactive form, Mirafzali said.
But even with all of those advantages, she is careful not to overpromise what the technology can deliver. Encapsula, based in Nashville, TN, has been in business for about 10 years and up to now has been supplying liposomes for research purposes to universities and pharmaceutical clients. The company has resisted getting into the dietary supplement market because of credibility reasons. Mirafzali said she has seen some wild claims made in connection with liposomal technology.
“We really avoided getting into the nutraceutical market for image reasons. There are lot of ‘real’ scientists who are suspicious of the nutraceutical market,” she said.
“I have seen people claim that liposomes, and the materials they carry, can get absorbed directly into the blood stream. When I see that I think , these are particles. If they did get absorbed into the blood stream you would go into immunoshock. The only way liposomes get into the blood is if they are injected for drug delivery under the care of a physician,” Mirafzali said.
The Curcusome product will be formally on the market in about a week and at first will be sold through the company’s website, Mirafzali said. The product will be aimed at a "more sophisticated" consumer who already has some understanding of what liposomes can do and will carry structure/function claims that apply to curcumin, she said. "It is a potent antioxidant," she said.
The company is also launching a product called Taurosome, which a liposomal formation of taurine meant for pet owners to administer to their cats. In this case, the liposome acts primarily to mask the bitter taste of the amino acid.