Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Mandi have used natural polymer-based smart nanoparticles to treat colorectal cancer. These nanoparticles release the drug in response to stimuli that are specific to cancer site only, according to a statement from the institute.
The statement said that the findings of the research have been published in the journal Carbohydrate Polymers. The research has been led by Dr Garima Agrawal, Assistant Professor, School of Basic Sciences, and co-authored by her students Dr Ankur Sood and Aastha Gupta from IIT Mandi and Professor Neal Silverman, along with his team from the University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, MA, the US. The research was funded by the Science and Engineering Research Board, Government of India, along with IIT Mandi.
Explaining the research, Dr Agrawal, said in the statement, “One of the driving interests among the material science and healthcare community performing inter-disciplinary work is the development of biodegradable nanoparticles from renewable resources and designing them in such a way that they can release the drug in response to stimuli which are specific to cancer site only.”
She further added, “The designed system should be capable of supporting drugs having different solubility in water. In this regard, the simplest approach that we followed for developing biodegradable nanoparticles is using chitosan, which is a naturally-derived polymer, in combination with disulfide chemistry.”
IIT Mandi researchers have developed redox responsive chitosan/stearic acid nanoparticles (CSSA NPs) as drug carriers for both curcumin (hydrophobic; a component from turmeric that is used daily in food) and doxorubicin (hydrophilic) drugs delivery targetting colorectal cancer. This approach of combining anti-cancer drugs having a different mode of anti-cancer action allows to develop the systems for cancer therapy with enhanced efficacy.
The researchers at IIT Mandi have developed biodegradable nanoparticles from renewable resources, thus reducing the dependency on petroleum-based polymers. These smart nanoparticles are stable under physiological conditions and degrade at tumour sites in the presence of redox stimuli of cancer cells. These nanoparticles can be used to successfully load and release both hydrophilic and hydrophobic drugs having a different anti-cancer mechanism which can help to improve the treatment efficiency, added the statement.
Talking about the uniqueness of their research, Gupta informed, “We have synthesised nanoparticles based on disulfide (−S−S−) crosslinking chemistry via air oxidation of thiolated chitosan and thiolated stearic acid, thus avoiding the use of any external cross-linking agent. We have tried five different combinations of thiolated polymers to select the combination best suitable for obtaining stable and uniform nanoparticles. The presence of disulfide bonds allows the degradation of these smart nanoparticles at the tumour site owing to higher glutathione amounts in cancer cells.”
Researchers have also investigated cancer cell killing efficiency through in-vitro studies, and the colon targetting ability of the designed system through in-vivo biodistribution experiments on c57bl/6j mice. The research team further plans to perform biological studies to gain deeper insight into the potential of the developed system for colorectal cancer treatment, concluded the statement.