New Cancer Therapies
Grapefruit Juice: “Nanovectors derived from grapefruits can efficiently deliver a variety
of therapeutic agents,” says the NIH article
Image Credit: Zhang lab
An article in the National Institutes of Health (NIH) says that nanoparticles derived from
the juice of a grapefruit might one day deliver cancer therapies to humans that are less
toxic than current chemo drugs derived from synthetic materials. The research is in its
Nanoparticles are emerging as an efficient tool for drug delivery. Microscopic pouches made of synthetic lipids can serve as a carrier, or vector, to protect drug molecules within the body and deliver them to specific cells. However, these synthetic nanovectors pose obstacles including potential toxicity, environmental hazards and the cost of large-scale production. Recently, scientists have found that mammalian exosomes—tiny lipid capsules released from cells—can serve as natural nanoparticles. But making therapeutic nanovectors from mammalian cells poses various production and safety challenges.
A research team led by Dr. Huang-Ge Zhang at the University of Louisville hypothesized that exosome-like nanoparticles from inexpensive, edible plants might be used to make nanovectors to bypass these challenges. The scientists set out to isolate nanoparticles from the juice of grapefruits, grapes and tomatoes. Their work was funded in part by NIH’s National Cancer Institute (NCI) and National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM). The study appeared on May 21, 2013 inNature Communications.
The researchers found that grapefruit juice yielded the most lipid nanoparticles. They then prepared grapefruit-derived nanovectors (GNVs) and tested them in different cell types. GNVs were taken up by a variety of cells at body temperature. These nanovectors had no significant effect on cell growth or death rates. They proved to be more stable than a synthetic nanovector and were also taken up by cells more readily.
The scientists next tested the GNVs in mice. Three days after fluorescently labeled GNVs were injected into a tail vein or body cavity, they appeared primarily in the liver, lungs, kidneys and spleen. After intramuscular injections, GNVs were found predominantly in muscle. After intranasal administration, most were seen in the lung and brain.Anything that can reduce the toxicity of therapeutic drugs would be welcome new for cancer patients, who often suffer side effects from synthetically produced chemo drugs. That researchers are looking to natural products, that is, common fruits, as a possible solution to the toxicity problem shows that some of our advances in medicine might now come from nature. The article says, quoting Dr. Zhang::
These nanoparticles, which we’ve named grapefruit-derived nanovectors, are derived from an edible plant, and we believe they are less toxic for patients, result in less biohazardous waste for the environment, and are much cheaper to produce at large scale than nanoparticles made from synthetic materials.The GNVS are now in the early stages of clinical trials for colon cancer patients.
You can read the rest of the article at [NIH]