Research Highlight

Nano gold formulation to combat drug resistant cancer

doi:10.1038/nindia.2017.117 Published online 7 September 2017

A team of scientists from Deccan College of Medical Sciences (DCMS) and CSIR-Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), both in Hyderabad, report a novel approach to treat drug resistant cancer, for which there is no effective treatment currently available1.

Cancer cells develop resistance due to long-term treatment with high doses of anti-cancer drugs which, apart from inducing drug resistance, may also lead to some fatal mutations in healthy tissues causing adverse effects in the body. Treating drug resistant cancers has been a major challenge because it is difficult to lower the drug doses without causing adverse effects.

To address this challenge, the DCMS-CCMB team developed a biologically compatible gold nanoparticle (GNP)-based formulation of the anti-cancer drug sorafenib (SF). The researchers found that the SF-GNP nano-conjugate effectively combatted drug resistance in human liver cancer cells ex vivo. In vivo tests in animals with SF-GNPs showed absence of systemic toxicological effects.

"This novel nano-formulation does not induce adverse effects in the body and kills drug resistant cancer cells by specific targeting at very low dose," Aleem Ahmed Khan at the DCMS Centre for Liver Research and Diagnostics and one of the authors said. According to the authors, this approach is cost-effective and can treat both solid cancers and drug resistant cancers.

"This particular strategy of using SF-GNP conjugate in treating SF resistant liver cancer cells may augment the possibility of SF and related drugs to reduce the load of drug resistance with lower dose and reduced adverse events in advanced cancer," the authors say adding that "more such trials are desirable in pre-clinical models to take his technology from bench to bedside.


1. Vishwakarma, S. K. et al. Use of biocompatible sorafenib gold nanoconjugates for reversal of drug resistance in human hepatoblatoma cells. Sci. Rep. (2017) doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-08878-y