Research Highlight

Fluorescent hybrid anticancer drug carrier

doi:10.1038/nindia.2013.107 Published online 13 August 2013

Researchers have developed a new kind of fluorescent, nanoporous hybrid material capable of delivering drugs to lung and breast cancer cells . The hybrid material could also be used to image cancer cells and other living cells, aiding the diagnosis of many diseases.

The researchers synthesized the nanoporous hybrid material from inorganic and organic compounds and attached a fluorescent organic compound to it. Sophisticated imaging techniques revealed that the hybrid material was composed of hollow nanoparticles with diameters between 100 nm and 150 nm.

Using cancer cells, normal cells and the anticancer drug doxorubicin, they tried to determine the toxicity, biocompatibility and drug-delivery potential of the hybrid material. They found that the hybrid material was biocompatible and non-toxic to both normal cells and cancer cells.

To determine its drug-delivery potential, the hybrid material was loaded with doxorubicin and exposed to lung and breast cancer cells. It inhibited the growth of the cancer cells. Doxorubicin attached to the hybrid material was 20% more effective in killing cancer cells than free doxorubicin.

Fluorescence microscopy showed that the hybrid material exhibited fluorescence even after entering the cancer cells. It selectively targeted cancer cells over normal cells. "The fluorescent hybrid material is a promising drug carrier and could be used for live cell imaging in routine cell biology and pharmacological research," says Chitta Ranjan Patra, a co-author of the study.

The authors of this work are from: Department of Materials Science, Indian Association for the Cultivation of Science, Jadavpur, Kolkata and Biomaterials Group, CSIR-Indian Institute of Chemical Technology, Hyderabad, India.


  1. Modak, A. et al. A luminescent nanoporous hybrid material based drug delivery system showing excellent theranostics potential for cancer. Chem. Commun. 49, 7644 (2013) | Article |