Spicy nanotech weaponry delivers payload at target: Study

By Will Chu

- Last updated on GMT

©iStock
©iStock
Nanoparticles show promise in delivering beneficial compounds to the body as a study details the successful administration of the spice curcumin to a target site with minimal toxic side effects.

The study demonstrates that the extract’s shortcomings as a therapeutic are overcome by nanotechnology implementation that delivers the spice extract’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties to a target.

"Unique approaches with nanoparticle delivery systems hold promise for treatment”,​ said Dr Tamarah Westmoreland, senior author of the study and paediatric surgeon at Nemours Children's Health System in Florida.

“We are hopeful that in the future, nanoparticles can be utilized to personalize care to patients and reduce the late effects of therapy”.

Curcumin’s properties mirror those of other botanicals, exhibiting low solubility in water and poor bioavailability and stability, especially at pH values at 6.0 or below.

Researchers have persevered with curcumin, a component of the common spice turmeric, as a wealth of studies in the past have pointed towards a substantial anti-cancer ability without cytotoxic effects.

Study details

The team from the University of Central Florida began by packing cerium oxide nanoparticles with curcumin and coating them with dextran that extend their stay within the host’s circulation system.

These nanoparticles were then test in cell lines of a tumour cell, known as MYCN-amplified, as well as non-amplified tumour cell.

The nanoparticles were found to induce substantial cell death in tumour cells (up to a 2-fold and a 1.6-fold decrease in cell viability for MYCN-upregulated and normal expressing cell lines, respectively).

Equally encouraging was production of minor toxic traces in healthy cells with no toxicity recorded at 100 μM.

‘An effective delivery vehicle’

The use of nanoparticles is a relatively recent cost-effective vehicle approach for the treatment of disease, in particular, the use of cerium oxide nanoparticle (CNPs) with cytoprotective/toxic character.

Nanoparticles, such as CNPs, have the advantage of superior linkage with various small molecules to assist with their delivery to diseased cells.

Additionally, a previous study​ has also identified treatment with curcumin-complexed nanoceria can induce a further decrease in disease cell viability when compared to dextran-coated CNPs.

Nanotech reservations

The major sticking point in nanotechnology’s use in therapeutic activity centres on the potential risks such nanoscopic material may have on the host.

Certain nanoparticles have shown negative effects on tissues including inflammation and oxidative stress.

Other materials only show toxicity at the nanoscale. One experiment​ demonstrated that single-walled carbon nanotubes inhibited human embryo kidney cell growth and negatively impact on cell growth and cell turnover.

In 2001, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) published its guidance on risk assessment concerning potential risks arising from applications of nanoscience and nanotechnologies to food and feed.

The agency concluded that engineered nanomaterial (ENM) was a field “under fast development​”, characterised by “several uncertainties related to the identification, characterisation and detection of ENM”.

Source: Nanoscale
Published online ahead of print: DOI: 10.1039/c7nr02770b
“Nanoparticle delivery of curcumin induces cellular hypoxia and ROS-mediated apoptosis via modulation of Bcl-2/Bax in human neuroblastoma.”
Authors: Irina Kalashnikova, Joseph Mazar, Craig Neal, Amy Rosado, Soumen Das, Tamarah Westmoreland and Sudipta Seal

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