Spider silk possibly to treat cancer

Cancer is one of the major illnesses that plagues humanity. Chemotherapy is often used to treat cancers. However, the success of chemotherapy is often limited by the resistance of cancer cells to chemotherapeutic drugs.

Also, due to inefficient delivery of drugs to targeted cells, the anti cancer drugs have toxic side effects that cause harm to otherwise healthy cells. This is caused mainly by drug efflux from cells.

The research highlights the potential of nanoparticles as a drug delivery method. They can be deposited at the tumor site and deliver drugs to cancerous cells.

Scientists have discovered a way to produce Iron oxide and spider silk composite materials with a high magnetism and added ability for chemotherapeutic drug loading.


The silk proteins were produced in E.coli and purified from bacterial cells using thermal denaturation. Spheres were formed when the silk proteins were mixed with the iron nanoparticles. Doxorubicin, a common chemotherapeutic drug was loaded with the composite spheres.

The composite spheres of spider silk and iron nanoparticles yielded a loading efficiency double that of previous findings. The scientists also found that the size of the composite spheres determined the overall particle surface.

The smaller the spheres the more doxorubicin it could hold.

Drug release was also significantly higher for the composite spheres as compared to pure spider silk particles.

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