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Nanotechnology to Cure Irritable Bowel Syndrome - The Possibilities

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Nanotechnology is expanding its wings in the treatment of many medical conditions. This article focuses on the possibilities of nanotechnology to cure irritable bowel syndrome.

Written by

Dr. Asha. C

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Ghulam Fareed

Published At March 2, 2023
Reviewed AtMarch 26, 2024


Nanotechnology has gained huge acceptance in several industries, offering smarter products and better built. Nanotechnology is the utilization of the distinctive properties of materials at the nanoscale. The application of nanotechnology in healthcare and medicine is referred to as nanomedicine. It is commonly used to fight against some of the severe and common diseases like cancer and cardiovascular diseases.

What Is Nanomedicine?

Nanomedicine refers to the area of science that collates nanotechnology with diagnostic molecules or medicine to improve target specific cells or tissues' ability. Mainly, nanomedicine utilizes nanoscale and nano-enabled techniques to diagnose, monitor, prevent, and treat diseases. Nanomedicine has a significant role in the field of medicine, including drug delivery systems, diagnostic tools, imaging techniques, tissue-engineered constructs, pharmaceutical therapeutics, and implants. Additionally, it provides advanced treatments for many several diseases, including musculoskeletal conditions, neurodegenerative diseases, cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes, and bacterial and viral infections.

What Is Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common condition that affects the gastrointestinal tract. The symptoms of IBS include repeated abdominal pain and changes in bowel movement, like diarrhea, constipation, or both. These problems can cause the gastrointestinal tract to be more sensitive and undergo changes in the bowel contract. If the intestine is more sensitive, there will be more abdominal pain.

IBS is a chronic condition that requires long-term management. However, only a small group of people with IBS have severe symptoms. The symptoms of IBS can be managed by making changes in diet and lifestyle and controlling stress. More-severe symptoms require medication consultation and counseling. In rare cases, IBS can cause intestinal damage but does not increase the risk of gastrointestinal cancers.

How Is Nanotechnology Used for Irritable Bowel Syndrome Treatment?

The exact mechanism of action of IBD (irritable bowel disease) is still not clear. It is believed that genetic vulnerability, chronic conditions, changes in the microbiota, and oxidative stress can cause IBD. IBD therapies have many adverse side effects, including a high risk of infections and certain cancers. Also, patients undergoing long-term drug administration to prevent relapse of the condition. So, a discovery of a drug that can be administered to localized inflamed sites and prevent side effects will be beneficial. The following drug therapies are used in the treatment of IBD, and engineered NPs (nanoparticles) have enhanced the efficacy and safety of local drug delivery, prevented systemic side effects, and increased drug concentration.

Aminosalicylic Acid (5-ASA)

The 5-ASA is widely used in the treatment of IBD, but they are quickly absorbed in the small intestine, so only a minimum quantity of the drug reaches the colon. So, various NP formulations loaded with 5-ASAs are formulated to provide a targeted, constant, and controlled drug release. For instance, some scientists have formulated nanocarriers like chitosan-bound ginger nanocarriers, poly (methoxy ethylene glycol-caprolactone-co-methacrylic acid-co-poly (ethylene glycol) methyl ether methacrylate) (P(CE-MAA-MEG)), 5-ASA loaded SiO2, that have selective drug release mechanism targeting the inflamed colon, and has improved therapeutic efficacy in IBS.


Corticosteroids, such as Prednisolone, Dexamethasone, and Budesonide, are another class of drugs used in IBD treatment. The long-term use of the drug is restricted due to immunosuppression effects and other systemic side effects. The following are the drugs nanocarriers formulated by scientists to treat IBD:

  • Prednisolone-loaded Eudragit L100–55 polymer microparticles as a drug delivery system were effective to release in the acidic conditions of the stomach and are beneficial for the treatment of conditions like IBD and colon cancer.

  • Budesonide loaded in three different nanocarriers like liposome coating aminoclay, liposome, and Eudragit S100-aminoclay double-coated liposome (EAC-Bud-Lip) gained excellent drug absorption in Caco-2 cells and demonstrated greater inhibition of TNFa and IL-6 secretion.

  • Budesonide with the polymer Eudragit S100 and surfactant poloxamer also proved effective in treating IBD.


Immunomodulators weaken or stimulate the immune system's function. When immunomodulators like Tacrolimus, 6-Mercaptopurine, Methotrexate, and Azathioprine are used in IBD, it can reduce the inflammatory response of the body, which is responsible for IBD flares. By using low-cost and bio-available NPs, efficient treatment can be achieved. An oral drug delivery system of Tacrolimus (FK506)-loaded microspheres is formulated to treat inflammatory sites in the colon, and a single-dose injection of FK506 (Tacrolimus) with biodegradable microspheres showed release of Methotrexate gel in the intended colon region to treat colorectal disorders.

Plant-Based Nanoparticles

The plant-derived molecules, such as flavonoids, alkaloids, polyphenols, tannins, polysaccharides, and volatile oils, have broad biological functions and immense therapeutic potential for treating different diseases through nanomedicines. Combinatorial approaches to plant-based components with nanotechnology have been found effective in inflammatory bowel disease.

Biological synthesis of nanoparticles through these naturally occurring phytochemicals mainly, silymarin (derived from the seed of Silybum marianum), curcumin (obtained from the rhizome of Curcuma longa L.), ginger (obtained from the rhizome of Zingiber officinale roscoe), berberine (obtained from the root and stems of Berberis vulgaris L), piceatannol (obtained from the seed of Euphorbia lagascae Spreng.), embelin (derived from the fruit of Embelia ribes Burm), thymoquinone (isolated from the seeds of Nigella sativa L), resveratrol (a polyphenol occur in many plants, like in grapes), Konjac glucomannan (derived from the plant Amorphophallus konjac K.Koch), and quercetin (a polyphenol found in many plants, like in onions), has shown tremendous potential for IBD treatment.

How Is Nanoparticle Beneficial in Rectifying Microbiome Imbalance in IBS Patients?

The development and progression of IBD in patients are mostly associated with their gut microbiome imbalance. IBD patients possess different gut microbiota when compared with healthy people. Recently, many methods have been implicated in improving gut microbiome in IBD patients, like the fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT) strategy; this procedure has some major limitations associated with biosafety. Another simple method and beneficial method is an increased intake of probiotics.

Recently, nanoparticles have been developed to modulate the gut microbiota in IBD patients to improve their conditions. Adding on, these newly synthesized nanoparticles are also beneficial in reducing inflammation caused due to colorectal cancer. Hyaluronic acid-bilirubin, known as HABN, was recently developed to modulate and reduce the gut microbiome by enabling the development of self-assembled nanoparticles that could be orally administered. Colon-retentive hydrogel, containing anti-PD-1, was developed by researchers, which modulates the gut microbiome. This therapy significantly increases the abundance of Akkermansia, Roseburia, and Lactobacillus, which produce short-chain fatty acids (SCFA) that help in reducing IBD risk.


The development of nanotechnology-based therapy against IBD is exponentially increasing.Many pharmaceutical companies are focusing on developing many nanoparticles that will help in the treatment of IBS and other gastrointestinal diseases. Although, more knowledge is required to better understand the nanoparticle's effects on the gut microbiome, which could improve IBD patients' outcomes.

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Dr. Ghulam Fareed
Dr. Ghulam Fareed

Medical Gastroenterology


irritable bowel syndrome
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