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16 April, 2014 - 12:00 By News Desk

New capsule could provide remedy for iron deficiency


A capsule that could provide a side-effect-free remedy for iron deficiency has been developed by a scientific team featuring University of Bedfordshire iron expert Dr Sebastien Farnaud.

The collaborative project, anchored at the University of Westminster, proposes a solution to increase iron uptake in the body.

According to the World Health Organisation, iron deficiency poses a significant global health challenge.

Current treatments and medications result in iron being trapped in the gut because the iron in these medications is not properly absorbed.

The iron remains in the gut and causes a wide range of side-effects such as stomach upset, constipation, diarrhoea, nausea and vomiting. Therefore, iron treatments have not only low efficiency but also very poor compliance with many people not taking their medication due to side effects.

The project team, led by Dr Derek Renshaw and Dr M.Gulrez Zariwala at Westminster, has created an iron-Vitamin C capsule to help prevent these issues.

The work – done collaboratively with Dr Satyanarayana Somavarapu from University College London School of Pharmacy – has considerable potential for nutritional and pharmaceutical applications across the world.

Dr Farnaud, a senior lecturer in Biochemistry at Bedfordshire and an international expert in iron metabolism, said: “Essentially what we have done is to trick the gut by wrapping the iron in a capsule so that more iron should be absorbed and without causing side effects in the gut.

“The results, obtained in vitro using human intestinal cells, demonstrate significantly higher iron absorption into the blood than any other commercially available iron supplement.”

Although further human studies are required for validation, researchers say the work is showing an “exciting” and “innovative” approach to helping millions of people worldwide, who struggle with symptoms commonly including tiredness, lethargy, shortness of breath, slow cognitive and social development during childhood, decreased immune function and increased susceptibility to infection.

Dr Farnaud hopes to progress the work so that the capsule is commercially available internationally.

The research was published in the March issue of the journal ‘Colloids and Surfaces: Biointerfaces’.

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