NUST MISIS Scientists Use Indian Plant to Fight Lung Cancer

Zinc oxide nanorods that inhibit the growth of cancer cells were obtained by NUST MISIS scientists as part of an international group of researchers. According to the experts, the created nanorods are unique, as they have been obtained without toxic substances using an extract from the leaves of a tropical plant. The research results have been published in the JOM journal.

Scientists have managed to obtain nanorods for lung cancer treatment from zinc acetate, without using toxic substances, using an extract from the leaves of the Cyrtrandroemia nicobarica plant, growing in the tropical rainforests of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands in India.

Experts note that today zinc oxide nanorods (ZnO NRs) are actively used in the treatment of various diseases: they can be used to inject drugs into diseased human organs and get an image of the affected parts of the body. They have an antibacterial effect and are particularly effective in inhibiting the growth of cancer cells by damaging their cell membrane.

Today, according to scientists, obtaining ZnO NRs requires labor-intensive methods and expensive equipment. Besides, toxic chemicals are involved in the creation process. Therefore, an alternative direction of “green synthesis” with the use of plants, fungi and bacteria has been actively developing recently.

“We have conducted laboratory tests and confirmed the non-toxicity of the samples. After that, special analyzes have shown the suppressive activity of nanorods against cancer cells in human lungs: they cause oxidative stress, damaging DNA and leading to apoptosis — the death of cancer cells,” explained Mikhail Gorshenkov, associate professor at the Department of Physical Materials Science at NUST MISIS.

According to him, Cyrtrandroemia nicobarica belongs to the Gesneriaceae family and was first discovered in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Its medical use has not yet been known. However, the Nicobarians and other local tribes use the plant to treat scorpion stings, skin allergies, and wound healing, the researchers say.

Cyrtrandroemia nicobarica leaf extract has been mixed with zinc acetate to create non-toxic nanorods. The resulting solution has been incubated in a magnetic stirrer for two hours and then has been settling until a transparent white precipitate has formed. The precipitated solution has been centrifuged at 6000 rpm to obtain a suspension, a sample of which has been diluted with deionized water. The suspension has been dried at 80 ° C to obtain pure ZnO NR powder.

According to experts, the study has confirmed that targeted treatment of lung cancer based on nanotechnology is possible using non-toxic ZnO nanorods formed from a selected plant extract.

Specialists from the College of Arts and Sciences KS Rangasami (Tamil Nadu, India) and Seoul National University of Science and Technology (Republic of Korea) have participated in the study. Currently, the team continues preclinical studies of the material obtained.