Julie De Munck

CRIG member
Julie De Munck

Doctoral fellow – Department of Food Technology, Safety and Health: Research Group Food Chemistry and Human Nutrition (Faculty of Bioscience Engineering, UGent) 
Principal Investigators: prof. John Van Camp (PhD) and prof. Matthias D’hooghe (PhD)


Research focus

Curcumin is a yellow colored polyphenol extracted from the rhizomes of Curcuma longa (‘turmeric’). Despite its interesting properties (e.g. antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, anticancer), curcumin has been described to possess a low bioavailability, low stability and aspecific activity which hampers application in health care.
This research project is in collaboration with the Department of Organic and Macromolecular Chemistry (UGent) which will provide new chemically modified curcuminoid structures with improved physiochemical and anticancer characteristics. In this project, these curcuminoid ‘hit-structures’ will be evaluated regarding oral bioavailability, intestinal and hepatic metabolism and bioactivity against cancer, using an advanced in vitro co-culture model.
This novel developed model will be composed of a Transwell® set-up, containing an intestinal barrier, hepatic spheroids and cancer-fibroblast co-culture spheroids. Curcuminoid uptake/transport and metabolism in intestinal and hepatic cell lines can be studied by LC-MS/MS-based methods. Intracellular curcuminoid accumulation will be determined as well using spectrofluorometric and microscopic techniques. In addition, anticancer bioactivity will be explored by measuring tumor growth, cell viability, intracellular ROS levels, oxidative stress and mitochondrial respiration. Eventually, molecular techniques will be applied to unravel potential inhibitory working mechanisms of the curcuminoids. 
The results of this research enable selection of the most promising candidates for follow-up studies, which may eventually lead to the future application of oral curcuminoid-based chemotherapeutics.

Contact & links