Research Highlight

Nanoconjugates remove dead cell fragments

doi:10.1038/nindia.2013.125 Published online 18 September 2013

Researchers have developed fungal-polysaccharide-based nanoconjugates that can safely remove cell-damaging chromosomal fragments of dead cells generated in diseases such as cancer and autoimmune disorders . These nanoconjugates can be used as therapeutic agents for treating various diseases.

Every day, an adult human produces nearly one trillion dead cells, which are replaced by normal healthy cells. However, cancer and other diseases disturb this balance by inducing dead cells to release chromatin fragments, a type of chromosomal fragments, into the blood stream. These fragments damage the DNA of healthy cells.

To devise an effective technique to remove chromosomal fragments, the researchers synthesized nanoconjugates using histone antibody and the fungal polysaccharide, pullulan.

They treated two groups of albino mice with adriamycin, an anticancer drug that induces massive cell death. One group, treated with nanoconjugates, had significantly lower levels of chromosomal fragments than the other group of mice treated with adriamycin alone. The study found that multiple doses of nanoconjugates reduced the levels of chromosomal fragments by 94 per cent.

The researchers then induced an infection in mice by injecting them with lipopolysaccharide (LPS), a molecule found in the outer membranes of bacteria. LPS also produces dead cells and chromosomal fragments. Administering the nanoconjugates prevented the mice from dying from LPS-mediated infection, whereas the untreated mice died.

Since the nanoconjugates are smaller than 50 nm in diameter, they can efficiently scavenge out circulating chromosomal fragments from the body. The researchers say that these nanoconjugates can non-invasively remove chromosomal fragments from blood without the need for any other treatment.


  1. Rekha, M. R. et al. Pullulan-histone antibody nanoconjugates for the removal of chromatin fragments from systemic circulation. Biomaterials 34, 6328-6338 (2013) | Article | PubMed |