Polyphenols are chemicals known to exist naturally in tea. These chemicals have exhibited the potential to prevent and treat numerous forms of human cancers. However, research carried out by University of Bradford researchers on Polyphenols in nanoform demonstrates that the effects of these chemicals at the nanoscale are drastically different from that of their standard form.
Polyphenols prevent damage to DNA by free radicals by virtue of their antioxidant properties. The study which involved the treatment of white blood cells obtained from both healthy volunteers and colorectal cancer patients with different forms of Polyphenols showed that the antioxidant properties were reversed in nanoform.
When the pro-oxidant effects of Polyphenol in nanoform were first observed, the researchers assumed that it was the result of a mistake in their study. However, research lead, Professor Diana Anderson correlated this phenomenon with a previous study in which switching of properties of Vitamin C based on dosage was observed. This is the first instance of property reversal observed for a compound at the nanoscale. In the course of the research, lymphocytes were subject to oxaliplatin and satraplatin which are platinum-based chemotherapeutic drugs. The drugs impede the reproduction and transcription of the cancer cells by binding to the DNA and forging numerous links and cause the death of cancer cells by obstructing the signal pathways. The lymphocytes were simultaneously treated with Polyphenol in bulk and nanoform. Comet assay tests were employed to determine the relative changes in damage inflicted in DNA by the various forms of Polyphenol.
The study findings indicate that application of nanotechnology in medicine is not a straightforward process. It shows that nanoparticle forms of drugs do not always prove to be effective.