Hyeon Taek-hwan, director of the Center for Nanoparticle Research at the Institute for Basic Science, announced on August 21 that his research team newly discovered triptolide, which cures liver cancer with natural materials. The team succeeded in creating a nanomissile by applying nanoparticle technologies to this naturally extracted triptolide, together with the National Cancer Centre in Singapore.
The research team discovered that triptolide found in natural Tripterygium regelii Sprague et Takeda is much more effective in treating liver cancer cells than existing medicines. However, triptolide is too toxic to be used as it is, since it affects healthy cells as well. So the research team created polymers which stay still in neutral tissues but burst in liver cancer tissues which are acidic, and capture triptolide into the polymers. The research team also attached folic acid (water soluble vitamins in a vitamin B-complex), which selectively combines with acceptors on the surface of liver cancer cells, just like missile guidance equipment.
Director Hyeon explained, “As a result of this research, side effects are minimized and medicine is delivered only to liver cancer cells selectively. We discovered that the survival rate tripled when the nanomissile was injected into a mouse with liver cancer cells.”
The results of this research were published online at ACS Nano, an international academic paper in nanomaterials printed by the American Chemical Society on August 5.