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IIT teams use plant extract, heat to kill skin cancer cells

IIT teams use plant extract, heat to kill skin cancer cells

Nanoparticle formulation of a chlorophyll-rich biomolecular extract of an Indian medicinal plant Anthocephalus cadamba combined with a near-infrared dye has been found to selectively kill skin cancer cells.

 Plant extract, to kill skin cancer cells

  • The plant extract is particularly toxic to cancer cells as there is enhanced generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) while the dye aids in the destruction of cancer cells through photothermal therapy. The results were published in the International Journal of Biological Macromolecules. Two teams from Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Hyderabad and IIT Bombay working together have achieved promising results using skin cancer cell lines.
  • While the plant extract is hydrophobic and hence the uptake by cells will be less, the nanoformulation of the extract makes it less hydrophobic, thereby increasing the bioavailability significantly. The extract and the dye together are encapsulated in a FDA-approved polymer to produce the nanoformulation.
  • Unlike the highly selective nature of the extract, the photothermal ablation produced by the dye when exposed to near-infrared light is not selective. “So we have minimised the photothermal effect and enhanced the selective toxicity by adding the plant extract. This way, the need to use photothermal effect is minimized to kill cancer cells.

Synergestic effects

  • The use of nanoformulation containing both the extract and the dye will be particularly useful in treating resistant cancer cells.
  • The NIR dye used (IR-780) for photothermal effect is an inherently imaging agent. The makes the use of any other chemical as an imaging agent redundant.
  • The nanoformulation with only the plant extract killed less than 20% skin cancer cells while the nanoformulation with only the dye killed 45-50% cells. But the extract and the dye used together killed 82-83% cancer cells. 

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