JAN 17, 2020 9:19 AM PST

Could salt nanoparticles kill cancer?

Could salt be the key to killing cancer cells? A new study published in Advanced Materials reports success in using sodium chloride to destroy cancer cells in mice. The study elicits hope for the use of a natural compound in cancer treatments that would pose fewer negative side effects than the chemical treatments available today.

Coming from scientists at the University of Georgia, in Athens, the study investigated the use of nanoparticles of sodium chloride to purposely cause apoptosis. They say that sodium chloride nanoparticles (SCNPs) can be delivered into cells to disrupt the ion homeostasis, breaking cell machinery and the plasma membrane.

Now listen up, because here’s the cool part. When SCNPs are delivered into tumor cells of mice and subsequently rupture the cell membrane, the resulting effect is the release of sodium and chlorine atoms that triggers an immune response to help the body fight against tumors. Cool, huh!

In the mice models that the researchers conducted, they determined that the delivery of SCNPs suppressed tumor growth by 66%; additionally, the SCNPs did not harm any of the mice's organs.

Lead author Jin Xie, Ph.D., commented on the safety of the technique, saying: "After the treatment, the nanoparticles are reduced to salts, which are merged with the body's fluid system and cause no systematic or accumulative toxicity. No sign of systematic toxicity was observed with SCNPs injected at high doses."

The hidden cancer-killing effects of sodium chloride nanoparticles. Photo: Pixabay

The authors say that "Primary concerns are [the particles'] toxicity, slow clearance, and unpredictable long‐term impact to the hosts.” In addition to that, arises the unforgettable truth that this method has only worked so far in mice, not in humans. Nevertheless, Xie expresses his optimism that SCNPs "will find wide applications in treatment of bladder, prostate, liver, and head and neck cancer."

Sources: Medical News Today, Advanced Materials

About the Author
BA Environmental Studies
Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
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