Scientists are trying to improve cancer treatment with each passing day. During such a study on common salt (Sodium chloride), the researchers have come across a new discovery. The nanoparticles of sodium chloride, when injected into the mice, can restrict the growth of cancerous cells and ultimately destroy them.
For many years, to treat cancer scientists have developed several drugs. These drugs not only destroy the cancerous cells but also healthy cells and produce toxic effects. Researchers mainly focused on finding the more appropriate drug which produces fewer negative effects in the body.
In Athens, from the University of Georgia, many scientists researched mice by using nanoparticles of salts or sodium chloride to know its positive effect in restricting the growth of cancer.
Sodium chloride known as table salt is essential for maintaining life processes. It also causes cell death if it used in the wrong place. The plasma membrane of the cell plays a vital role in controlling the negative effect due to sodium chloride. Ion channels are present in the cell membrane that is selective in permeability and do not allow all the particles to enter the cell. These channels control the amount of salt from entering the cell.
The channels support the homeostatic condition of the body by maintaining the appropriate amount of potassium inside the cell membrane and sodium and chloride amount outside the cell.
The new study was published in the journal Advanced Materials. The authors of the study verified their theory about the working of sodium chloride nanoparticles (SCNPs) in destroying the cancerous cells. According to theory, sodium chloride ions used the Trojan horse strategy for entering the cells, interrupting the homeostasis of ions inside the cell.
As the ion channels in the cell membrane do not allow the ions of salt to enter the cell but when sodium chloride used in the form of nanoparticles, these channels are not able to recognize them and as result, they enter the cell.
Nanoparticles contain a million ions of sodium chloride, so after entering the cell they release the ions into the cytoplasm. These ions disturbed the activities of the cell and rupture the cell membrane.
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After breaking the cell membranes, these ions release out of the cell and act as signaling molecules for the immune system and cause inflammation in that specific area.
Scientists used mouse models for testing their theory. SCNPs are injected into the tumors present in the mouse and their growth pattern observed through growth charts.
The growth of tumors was compared with the control group of mice in which the same quantity of sodium chloride was injected but in the form of ionic solution.
The conclusion made by the team was SCNPs reduces the growth by 66% as compared to the control group without damaging any organ of mice.
Jin Xie, an associate and lead professor explain the SCNPs treatment that this method is safe to use. After the treatment has been done, the nanoparticles are converted into the ions and get immerse in the body fluid. These ions cause no toxicity in the body even at high doses.
SCNPs have more affinity for the cancerous cell as compared to healthy ones. So, it saves the healthy tissues of the body. In recent years, scientists are trying to use these nanoparticles in medicines, but only some of them have reached the clinical stage.
The main aim is to produce the drugs that are free from toxicity, have slow clearance capability and produce unpredictable long-term positive effects. SCNPs are composed of benign material and caused toxicity if it remains in the form of nanoparticle inside the body.
During the second part of the study, Investigations have been carried out by the scientists to study the effects of cancerous cells killed by the SCNPs. On injecting these cells into the mice, it was found that cells are acting as vaccines and more resistance has been produced in the animal against various types of cancers. Because cancerous cells upon burst release the ions outside the cell and stimulate the immune responses.
Many studies are carried on isolated tumors. Primary tumors were injected with SCNPs and the growth pattern of secondary tumors was observed. It was found that the growth of secondary tumors is much slower as compared to the control group secondary tumors.
Scientists said that many drugs were successful in treating cancer in animals before using them in humans.
Xie hopefully saying that through using SCNPs we can find a wide range of treatment applications in the field of cancer and will be able to treat the prostate, bladder, liver, and head and neck cancer.