Grapefruit Nanoparticles Could Provide New Drug-Delivery Method
May 22, 2013

Nanoparticles Made From Grapefruit Could Be Safer Way To Administer Medicine

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online

A special type of nanoparticle created using natural lipids derived from grapefruit could be used as a less toxic way to deliver cancer-fighting medication, antibodies such as proteins, and other substances to patients, according to research published Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications.

The subtropical fruit has long been known for its health benefits, but now scientists from the University of Louisville have used them to develop what they are calling grapefruit-derived nanovectors (GNVs).

According to professor Huang-Ge Zhang, since the GNVs are derived from an edible plant, they could be safer for the patients, create less biohazardous waste for the environment, and cost less to mass produce than synthetic nanoparticles.

As part of their research, Zhang, Louisville associate Qilong Wang and their colleagues have managed to demonstrate that these GNVs can transport a variety of different therapeutic agents, and that treatments with GNVs appeared to cause fewer negative health effects than treatment with drugs being transported by synthetic lipids.

“Our GNVs can be modified to target specific cells — we can use them like missiles to carry a variety of therapeutic agents for the purpose of destroying diseased cells. Furthermore, we can do this at an affordable price,” Zhang said in a statement, noting that the eating habits of our ancestors helped to inspire the research.

“The fruits and vegetables we buy from the grocery today were passed down from generation to generation as favorable and nutritious for the human body,” he added. “On the flip side, outcomes were not favorable for our ancestors who ate poisonous mushrooms, for example. It made sense for us to consider eatable plants as a mechanism to create medical nanoparticles as a potential non-toxic therapeutic delivery vehicle.”

While grapefruit was ultimately selected as the source for the nanoparticles, Zhang and his colleagues also analyzed those originating from tomatoes and grapes. Ultimately, though, they said that grapefruits were selected for closer analysis because a greater quantity of lipids can be derived from the fruit.

“The therapeutic potential of grapefruit derived nanoparticles was further validated through a Phase 1 clinical trial for treatment of colon cancer patients. So far, researchers have observed no toxicity in the patients who orally took the anti-inflammatory agent curcumin encapsulated in grapefruit nanoparticles,” the university said.

The researchers also plan to test whether or not the technology can be used to treat inflammatory disease such as rheumatoid arthritis. In addition to researchers from the University of Louisville´s Department of Medicine, experts from the Louisville Veterans Administration Medical Center and the James Brown Cancer Center´s Department of Microbiology and Immunology were also involved with the study.