NaCl Nanoparticles as a Cancer Therapeutic

W Jiang and L Yin and HM Chen and AV Paschall and LY Zhang and WY Fu and WZ Zhang and T Todd and KS Yu and SY Zhou and ZP Zhen and M Butler and L Yao and F Zhang and Y Shen and ZB Li and A Yin and H Yin and XQ Wang and FY Avci and XZ Yu and J Xie, ADVANCED MATERIALS, 31 (2019).

DOI: 10.1002/adma.201904058

Many inorganic nanoparticles are prepared and their behaviors in living systems are investigated. Yet, common electrolytes such as NaCl are left out of this campaign. The underlying assumption is that electrolyte nanoparticles will quickly dissolve in water and behave similarly as their constituent salts. Herein, this preconception is challenged. The study shows that NaCl nanoparticles (SCNPs) but not salts are highly toxic to cancer cells. This is because SCNPs enter cells through endocytosis, bypassing cell regulations on ion transport. When dissolved inside cancer cells, SCNPs cause a surge of osmolarity and rapid cell lysis. Interestingly, normal cells are much more resistant to the treatment due to their relatively low sodium levels. Unlike conventional chemotherapeutics, SCNPs cause immunogenic cell death or ICD. In vivo studies show that SCNPs not only kill cancer cells, but also boost an anticancer immunity. The discovery opens up a new perspective on nanoparticle-based therapeutics.

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