Green Tea Nanocarriers Load Up On Cancer Drugs

Researchers have developed a green tea-based nanocarrier system that can carry up to 88 percent of its weight in cancer drugs.

AsianScientist (Mar. 22, 2018) – Researchers in Singapore have used green tea-based nanocarriers to improve the effectiveness of treatments for cancer. Their results have been published in Advanced Materials.

To reduce the side-effects of cancer drugs, the drugs are often encased in a carrier. Researchers working on drug carrier technologies to improve cancer treatment face two key challenges. First, existing carriers can typically carry only about 10 percent of their weight in drugs. This means that more carriers are needed to deliver a specific amount of drugs, and patients would require more frequent injections or a larger dosage per treatment to kill cancer cells effectively.

Secondly, current carrier systems are unstable. As they move around in the body, they are easily diluted in the bloodstream or destabilized by plasma proteins. This leads to leakage of the drugs before the carrier reaches its intended target, thus harming healthy cells along the way to the tumor site.

In 2014, a team of researchers led by Dr. Motoichi Kurisawa at the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (IBN) created self-assembling nanocarriers from epigallocatechin-3-O-gallate (EGCG), a known antioxidant found in green tea. Now, the team has applied the same approach to make new nanocarriers for Doxorubicin, a drug used to treat a variety of different cancers.

The green tea-Doxorubicin carriers were able to carry up to 88 percent of their weight in drugs and showed superior tumor-killing performance and stability in a liver cancer mouse model.

“This study corroborates our earlier findings and demonstrates the versatility of our green tea-based carrier system. We are excited about the potential of using our technology as a universal vehicle for delivering other chemotherapeutics to treat different types of cancer,” said IBN Executive Director Professor Jackie Ying.

The uniqueness of IBN’s nanocarrier lies in the strong intermolecular interaction between the structurally similar EGCG and small molecule anti-cancer drugs. This interaction facilitates drug loading and also provides excellent thermodynamic and kinetic stability to the carrier.

“The unprecedented amount of drug loading in our new nanocarriers allows us to kill more liver cancer cells effectively. We are hopeful that our technology would lead to fewer side effects in patients,” Kurisawa said.

The article can be found at: Liang et al. (2018) Highly Augmented Drug Loading and Stability of Micellar Nanocomplexes Composed of Doxorubicin and Poly(ethylene glycol)–Green Tea Catechin Conjugate for Cancer Therapy.


Source: Agency for Science, Technology and Research; Photo: Shutterstock.
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