Nanotech to fight cancer

Nanoparticle-coated drugs efficacious, says study

combating cancer: Nanoparticles are a quantum leap to improve effectiveness of drugs. Getty images

For “more targeted and controlled release of therapeutic agents,” nanosized Hydroxyapatite (HA), the main component of mineral bone, is one such nanoparticle that seems to be very promising.

Researchers at the Crystal Growth Centre at Anna University here, making a presentation at an International Workshop on “Nanoscience and Technology” held in Chennai, pegged their case on ciprofloxacin, the main antibiotic used for bone infections and two common anti-cancer drugs.

For instance, in contrast to pure ciprofloxacin, the antibiotic when coated on its surface with HA nanoparticles, various parameters like concentration of the drug, time of drug absorption and temperature were found to be optimised in the latter, scientists G Devanand Venkatasubbu, S Ramasamy and J Kumar noted in their presentation.

Similarly, HA nanoparticles can also be coated with anti-cancer drugs like Paclitaxel and Doxorubicin, the scientists said. When these HA nanoparticles are coated with anti-cancer drugs, it can be effectively used against different types of cancer. Thus nanoparticles could be a quantum leap to considerably improve the drugs’ effectiveness.

S R Rao, additional secretary, Department of Information Technology, Government of India, in his keynote address, said nanotechnology “offers a paradigm of ground-breaking materials” with applications in vast new areas, from biotechnology, medicine, textiles to electronics and communication.

Applications

Terming it a truly multi-disciplinary science in which the basic sciences intertwine with Information and Engineering sciences, Rao said “mind boggling’ applications were coming up using nanotechnology. Future optical switches, just to cite an example, “can perform trillion operations per second,” he pointed out.

“Your new sun glasses when coated with nanoparticles could ensure better ultraviolet rays protection. Further, with global warming becoming a major concern, Nanotechnology could be effectively used in monitoring and controlling carbon emissions,” said Rao.

Though this new scientific endeavour was beset with ethical questions, Rao hoped that this “Brahmaastra” (Nanotechnology) would be used “wisely to fight human diseases and hunger.”

Rao also informed Anna University Vice-Chancellor P Mannar Jawahar that in recognition of the good research work being done by the “Crystal Growth Centre (CGC)” in this field, the IT and Communications Ministry has now sanctioned a Rs
2.35 crore additional grant to the CGC.

Prof Donato Vincenzi, from Sensor and Semiconductor Lab, University of Ferrara, Italy, which recently entered into collaboration with Anna University, said “cross-fertilisation of different experiences” from the research work done by major labs was critical for the fruitful development of nanotechnology.

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