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Tea leaf nanoparticles can destroy lung cancer

A new study has shown that lung cancer cells can be destroyed using nanoparticles derived from tea leaves. These tiny particles, called “quantum dots”, are 400 times thinner than human hair and their production from tea leaves is safe and non-toxic.

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More and more research is focusing on the potential uses of nanoparticles in healthcare.

From “nanoprobes” used to detect micro-tumors to nanoparticles that carry drugs that target and destroy cancer cells, nanotechnology looks particularly promising in terms of its applications in cancer management. For example, a recent study showed that endometrial cancer can be targeted much more effectively if anticancer drugs are “loaded” into nanoparticles and transported directly to tumors. In another study, a similar approach was applied to the destruction of cancer stem cells. And now, researchers are turning to a type of nanoparticle called “quantum dots” to fight cancer.

Scientists led by researcher Sudhagar Pitchaimuthu at Swansea University’s College of Engineering in the United Kingdom have created quantum dots from tea leaf extract and used them to stop the growth of lung cancer cells. The findings were published in the journal Applied Nano Materials.

Up to 80% of cancer cells were destroyed

Quantum dots are less than 10 nanometers in diameter. They are usually created chemically and have already been used in computers and TV screens. However, as Pitchaimuthu and his team explain, this chemical production process is often complex and costly and can have a number of adverse toxic effects. Thus, the researchers wanted to explore an alternative with herbal, non-toxic materials. For this reason, they mixed tea leaf extract with cadmium sulfate and sodium sulfate. After allowing the substances to incubate, the quantum dots formed. They then applied the quantum dots to the cancer cells. They found that the anti-cancer properties of the nanoparticles were comparable to those of the widely used cisplatin chemotherapy drug.

In fact, the study found that quantum dots penetrate nanoparticles of cancer cells, destroying up to 80% of them.

Pitchaimuthu commented on the findings, saying: “Our research has confirmed previous evidence that tea leaf extract may be a non-toxic alternative to quantum dots.”

“The real surprise, however, was that the dots actively inhibited the growth of lung cancer cells. We did not expect this [… ..]. “Quantum dots are therefore a very promising way to explore, to develop new therapies for cancer.”

– Sudhagar Pitchaimuthu

Pitchaimuthu also shared some of his goals for future research, saying: “Based on this exciting discovery, the next step is to upgrade our operation, hoping for help from other partners.” “We want to investigate,” he continues, “the role of tea leaf extract in the imaging of cancer and the interface between quantum dots and cancer cells.” Eventually, the researchers would like to “create a quantum dot factory” that would allow them to fully explore the range of their possible applications.