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Researchers have found that cuttlefish ink—a black suspension sprayed by cuttlefish to deter predators—contains nanoparticles that strongly inhibit the growth of cancerous tumors in mice. The nanoparticles consist mostly of melanin by weight, along with amino acids, monosaccharides (simple sugars), metals, and other compounds. The researchers showed that the nanoparticles modify the immune function in tumors, and when combined with irradiation, can almost completely inhibit tumor growth.
The researchers, led by Pang-Hu Zhou at the Renmin Hospital of Wuhan University and Xian-Zheng Zhang at the Chemistry Department at Wuhan University, have published a paper on the ability of nanoparticles from cuttlefish ink to inhibit tumor growth in a recent issue of ACS Nano.
Nanoparticles - Ink - Biocompatibility - Tumor - Immunotherapy
"We found natural nanoparticles from cuttlefish ink with good biocompatibility that can effectively achieve tumor immunotherapy and photothermal therapy simultaneously," Zhang told Phys.org. "This finding might inspire more exploration of natural materials for medical applications."
Tumor immunotherapy involves fighting cancer by stimulating the body's own immune system. One strategy is to target leukocytes, or white blood cells. Macrophages are the predominant leukocyte found in some tumors, and they can take one of two forms: M1 or M2. The M1 phenotype engulfs and destroys tumor cells through the process of phagocytosis and with the activation of T cells (other white blood cells). In the M2 phenotype, on the other hand, this immune function is suppressed, allowing tumor growth to continue unchecked. In tumor environments, the M2 phenotype almost always outnumbers the M1 phenotype.
Researchers - Development - Molecules - Antibodies - Protumor
Recently, researchers have been working on the development of small molecules and antibodies that can convert protumor M2 macrophages to antitumor M1 macrophages. At the same time, they are designing nanoparticles such as photothermal agents that, when exposed to irradiation, locally destroy cancer cells by thermal ablation. These agents can be integrated into synthesized nanoparticles, and then potentially administered...
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