Ginger Could Possibly Improve Cancer Drug Delivery

Ginger-derived nanoparticles could be used to prevent chemotherapy toxicity in colon cancer.

Findings from a recent study suggest that nano-lipid particles derived from ginger could potentially improve drug delivery methods used for colorectal cancer treatments.

Colorectal cancer is common among both men and women, and is a leading cause of cancer-related deaths. Standard chemotherapy is the typical treatment for this type of cancer, but non-targeted treatment kills healthy cells, and can result in toxic side effects.

Allowing these drugs to target cancer cells would be a crucial part of advancing the treatment of colorectal cancer. Investigators in a recent study discovered that a nanoparticle from edible ginger could potentially help these drugs to only target cancerous cells.

The study was conducted by investigators from the Institute for Biomedical Sciences at Georgia State University, the Atlanta Veterans Affairs Medical Center and Wenzhou Medical University and Southwest University in China.

Ginger root is commonly used in food from Asia and India, and has also been thought to have medicinal properties. Prior research suggests that the consumption of ginger could potentially alleviate digestive issues, nausea, and inflammation.

The current study isolated the nanoparticle population in ginger root, and reassembled their lipids to create nanolipids (also called nanovectors) derived from ginger. The investigators then altered the nanovectors with folic acid to create FA-modified nanovectors (FA nanovectors).

Researchers used folic acid, since it shows high-affinity binding to folate receptors that are highly expressed on tumors, according to a press release from Georgia State University. These folate receptors are nearly undetectable on healthy cells.

Investigators tested the FA nanovectors with the chemotherapy treatment doxorubicin, and found that the drug was able to be efficiently loaded into the nanovectors. It was also discovered that the FA nanovectors were taken up by the cancer cells, and stopped tumor growth.

The FA nanovectors loaded with the drug were able to release the treatment quicker in a tumor-simulated environment compared with the standard delivery doxorubicin. These findings suggest that this method could be used to limit the side effects of the chemotherapy.

“Our results show that FA nanovectors made of edible ginger-derived lipids could shift the current paradigm of drug delivery away from artificially synthesized nanoparticles toward the use of nature-derived nanovectors from edible plants,” said Didier Merlin, PhD, a professor in the Institute for Biomedical Sciences at Georgia State and a Research Career Scientist at the VA Medical Center. “Because they are nontoxic and can be produced on a large scale, FA nanovectors derived from edible plants could represent one of the safest targeted therapeutic delivery platforms.”