Nanocarriers for plant-derived natural compounds
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Natural products constitute a large fraction in drug discovery processes. The term includes compounds from plants, microorganisms, and animals. Most of the natural products are secondary metabolites derived from plants, which are low in amounts and difficult to isolate. Another issue is the preservation of their bioactivity during process and storage as well as degradation in the gastrointestinal system before reaching circulation. Advances in nanotechnology offer nanoparticles, nanocapsules, and conjugates, which are devoted to site-specific, time-controlled delivery of bioactive agents. Nanoencapsulated systems have the advantage of high drug encapsulation efficiency because of optimized drug solubility in the core, low polymer content compared to other nanoparticulated systems such as nanospheres, drug polymeric shell protection against degradation factors, and the reduction of tissue irritation caused by the polymeric shell. This chapter will discuss nanoencapsulation methods and advances in carrier systems for plant-derived natural compounds.