Research Highlights

doi:10.1038/nindia.2012.157 Published online 25 October 2012

Versatile nanomop

Researchers have synthesized a new kind of curcumin-modified nanocomposite that inhibits the growth of cervical cancer cells and breaks down methylene blue (MB), a potentially harmful chemical in the presence of visible irradiation.

Composite nanomaterials have shown promise as drug carriers and cancer killers. In addition, various nanocomposites are effective in neutralizing chemicals that are harmful to humans. However, there is a dearth of nanocomposites that can kill cancer cells as well as detoxify harmful chemicals.

To find such versatile nanocomposites, the researchers prepared a nanocomposite by modifying zinc oxide nanoparticles with polyvinyl alcohol and curcumin. They then studied the anticancer effects and detoxifying potential of this nanocomposite using human cervical cancer cells and MB. They also compared efficacies between this nanocomposite and separately produced curcumin complex and unmodified zinc oxide nanoparticles.

The curcumin-modified nanocomposite was found to be more effective than curcumin complex alone against cervical cancer cells. Under visible irradiation, photocatalytic activity of the curcumin-modified nanocomposite was higher than those of curcumin and unmodified nanosized zinc oxide when all these nanomaterials were exposed to solutions containing MB. Research has shown that MB could exert toxic effects on the central nervous system.

The researchers claim that this double-edged curcumin-modified nanocomposite will be very useful in keeping cancer at bay while creating a protective shield against harmful chemicals.


  1. Hariharan, R. et al. Photodynamic action of curcumin derived polymer modified ZnO nanocomposites. Mater. Res. Bull. 47, 3090-3099 (2012)