The quest for treatment for cancer continues. Despite continual efforts from researchers for refining cancer treatments, there remains much scope for improvement. Researchers have been trying hands on various materials, including commonly used everyday items to destroy cancer cells. This time it’s salt.
Meanwhile, over the decades, the list of drugs to fight cancer is ceaselessly expanding. However, many of the drugs are harmful – to both cancer cells and healthy tissues. Thus, the hunt for more effective treatments with fewer harm for the rest of the body remains.
Researchers, many of whom are from the University of Georgia are considering sodium chloride in nanoparticle form.
Sodium chloride features two faces: on one side it is essential for life, and on the other it can destroy cells. For the latter reason, ion channels on plasma membrane that surround cells prevent entry of salt.
Nonetheless, right balance of potassium ions inside and sodium and chloride ions outside of cells is important to drives many processes. Such processes help support homeostasis.
Salt as a Trojan horse
This left scope for authors of the study to test if sodium chloride nanoparticles can be exploited as a Trojan horse. The role of sodium chloride here involves delivering ions into cells and damage the ion homeostasis.
Structurally, sodium chloride nanoparticles contain millions of sodium atoms and chloride atoms. Unfortunately, ion channels that prevent salt from entering does not recognize them in this molecular structure.
Resultantly, sodium chloride nanoparticles freely enter the cell. Once inside the cell, sodium chloride nanoparticles dissolve and result in discharge of sodium ions and chloride ions. And trapped in the cell.
Inside the cell, sodium and chloride ions damage cellular machinery and punctures the plasma membrane. This results in discharge of sodium and chloride atoms. Signal for an immune response and inflammation are reaction of the body to this.