Applications of silver nanoparticles in cancer treatment

Silver nanoparticles are very tiny particles measuring around 1 nm to 100 nm in size. Although they're also commonly referred to as just silver, some of them consist of significant quantities of silver oxide owing to their large surface-to-bulk silver atoms ratios. Following are some details related to commonly known applications of silver nanoparticles in cancer treatment:

Silver nanoparticles' applications are being consistently explored in the field of biological research as these particles are excellent carriers for delivery of several payloads like large biomolecules or tiny drug molecules to the specific locations inside the human bodies. The payload's release is normally triggered with the help of an external or an internal stimulus, once the silver nanoparticles reach their target. Such targeting and accumulation of the silver nanoparticles can facilitate high concentrations of payloads at the concerned target sites, while keeping the side effects to the minimum.

Applications of silver nanoparticles in chemotherapy

The introduction to and applications of silver nanoparticles in the field of medicine has resulted in constant advancement of the therapeutic drug design standards and the diagnostic cancer imaging. The nanotechnology involved in this regard can provide a great deal of insight into the function, organisation and structure of the biosystems at nanoscale levels.

Silver nanoparticles can be subjected to coating methods that lead to uniform functionalized surfaces which can then be used for adding substrates. So, once the silver nanoparticle has been coated, for instance, in case of silica, the resulting functionalized surface is silicic acid, and the substrates can then be added via stable ester and ether linkages that don't get degraded right away by the natural metabolic enzymes.

Some of the recent chemotherapeutic silver nanoparticles' applications have featured anti-cancer drugs consisting of photo cleavable linkers like ortho-nitrobenzyl bridge which can attach to the substrates on the nanoparticles' surfaces. It's the sustainability of the low toxicity nanoparticle complex even when it's under metabolic attacks, allowing it to get sufficiently distributed throughout the body that makes it an excellent component of the anti-cancer drugs.

Silver nanoparticles applications in overcoming MDR

One of the major reasons why the present-day chemotherapy treatments aren't so effective is because of the MDR or multiple drug resistance due to several different mechanisms. Silver nanoparticles are quite helpful in overcoming this problem of multiple resistance.

To elaborate on it further, whenever a targeting agent is employed for delivery of nanocarriers to the cancer cells, it's important for the agent to bind with the molecules in a highly selective manner, especially with the ones that are uniquely expressed on the cell surfaces. Therefore, nanoparticles can be designed using proteins which can specifically locate the drug-resistant cells having overexpressed transporter proteins on their surfaces.

One of the major drawbacks of the present-day nano-drug delivery systems is that the free drugs released by the nanocarriers into the cytosol are exposed to and affected by the MDR transporters again, and get exported as a result. This problem has been solved by the use of nano-crystalline silver particles, 8nm in size, and modified through TAT (trans-activating transcriptional activator), obtained from the HIV-1 virus, that works as a CPP (cell penetrating peptide).