Nanotech shows promise for anti-cancer nutraceuticals

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Nanotechnology

The gap between science showing potential anti-cancer properties of a range of nutraceuticals and the low bioavailability in vivo may be breached by nanotechnology, says a new review.

Writing in Biochemical Pharmacology​, researchers from The University of Texas report that nanotechnology has great potential for the delivery of nutraceutical, but too many unanswered questions remain at present to realise the potential of nano-scale nutraceutical formulations for the prevention of cancer.

A number of nutraceutical compounds have already been “packaged as nanoparticles and proven to be useful in ‘nanochemoprevention’ and ‘nanochemotherapy’”​, said the researchers, with the list including coenzyme Q10, curcumin, green tea polyphenols, and quercetin.

The potential of the various nutraceuticals appears to be, in part, related to the anti-inflammatory potential of the compounds. Chronic inflammation

And by formulating the compounds in the nano-scale, the bioavailability can be increased, said the researchers. Options for nano-formulations include polymer nanoparticles (with nanocarriers such as poly(lactic-co​-glycolic acid) (PLGA), and polyethylene glycol (PEG)), dendrimer nanoparticles, and liposomal nanoparticles.

Nanotechnology involves manipulating particles to a nanoscale in order to create new materials measuring between one and 100 nanometers. A nanometer is one billionth of a meter (a human hair is roughly 100,000 nanometers wide).

Market growing

“Nanoformulations of nutraceuticals essentially follow the general principles of nanotechnology,” ​explained the scientists in t “Therefore, the nanotechnology platforms are widely being used create delivery systems for bioactive natural products and nutraceuticals with poor water solubility.

“The market projections for these technologies suggest a multi-fold increase in their commercial potential over the next 5 years,”​ they added.

In the food and supplements industries nanotechnology is being used to create nanomaterials, which allow nutrients to be delivered to the body more effectively or be absorbed more rapidly.

Between 2007 and 2009, the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies (PEN) said the use of nanotechnology in dietary supplements sold in the US has tripled – from 11 to 44 products – and the public’s exposure to these types of supplements will “grow significantly” in the next few years.

Unanswered questions

“To fully realize [the great potential of nanotechnology for delivering nutraceuticals], more clinical trials are needed with nano-formulated nutraceuticals,”​ wrote the Texas-based researchers

“Abraxan, protein-bound paclitaxel with a mean particle size of approximately 130 nm for injectable suspension, has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for patients with metastatic breast cancer, but it requires intravenous delivery. Oral delivery of nutraceuticals, however, is preferred.

“The fate of the carrier materials used for the entrapment of nutraceuticals is also unclear at present. The short-term and long-term effects of the carrier material remain to be understood,”​ they added.

“Another concern is that properties of a nanoscale material may differ from the bulk-material, and it may alter absorption, digestion, metabolism, or excretion of nanodrugs in the body.

“Furthermore, because there is little information available about the potential health risk of nanoparticles, more research on the toxicology of nanoparticles is warranted. Chemoprevention requires the administration of nutraceuticals to normal and healthy individuals; thus, safety and cost are other points of concern,” ​they concluded.

Source: Biochemical Pharmacology
Volume 80, Issue 12, Pages 1833-1843
“Delivery of antiinflammatory nutraceuticals by nanoparticles for the prevention and treatment of cancer “
Authors: H.B. Nair, B. Sung, V.R. Yadav, R. Kannappan, M.M. Chaturvedi, B.B. Aggarwal

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