Research Highlight

Nanotherapy for breast cancer

doi:10.1038/nindia.2014.35 Published online 19 March 2014

Researchers have used the leaf extract of a medicinal plant to synthesize silver nanoparticles that exhibit anticancer properties against human breast cancer cells1. These nanoparticles could potentially be used for treating breast cancer.
Synthetic anticancer drugs are widely used to treat various cancers. Although such drugs kill cancer cells, they also are harmful to healthy cells. Previous studies have shown that silver nanoparticles have anticancer properties. However, the physical and chemical methods currently used to produce silver nanoparticles employ toxic and expensive chemicals.
To develop a low-cost, fast and green method for preparing nanoparticles with anticancer potential, the researchers synthesized silver nanoparticles using the leaf extract of Datura inoxia, an Indian medicinal plant known to possess anticancer properties. They then explored the anticancer properties of the silver nanoparticles by exposing cultured human breast cancer cells to different concentrations of the nanoparticles.
The nanoparticles initiated the controlled death of the cancer cells. The researchers found that the nanoparticles killed the cancer cells by generating reactive oxygen species, which destroyed cellular organelles such as mitochondria. The DNA content of cancer cells exposed to the nanoparticles for 24 hours was found to decrease during the exposure period.
The researchers say that this ecofriendly, simple and efficient method for producing silver nanoparticles with anticancer properties may potentially be used in the pharmaceutical industry.


1. Gajendran, B. et al. Biosynthesis and characterization of silver nanoparticles from Datura inoxia and its apoptotic effect on human breast cancer cell line MCF7. Mater. Lett. 122, 98–102 (2014)