Antimicrobial and anticancer agents
With the rise in bacteria resistant to bactericides and antibiotics, there is a growing demand for effective antimicrobials. Silver nanoparticles can act as antimicrobial agents. However, pure silver nanoparticles have undesirable side effects. Scientists recently found that capping the nanoparticles with phytocompounds makes them less toxic, and increases effectiveness.
Researchers from Aligarh Muslim University, India in collaboration with the King Abdulaziz University and the King Saud University, Saudi Arabia synthesised silver nanoparticles using an aqueous extract prepared from the root hairs of date palm, Phoenix dactylifera, cultivated in arid and semiarid regions.
The researchers in Saudi Arabia harvested root hairs from the stem above the ground without harming growth and productivity. The roots hairs were sent to Korea, where phytochemicals were extracted. Researchers in India explored the antibacterial and anticancer activities of the silver nanoparticles synthesised in the presence of the phytochemicals.
The nanoparticles were crystalline, spherical and their size ranged from 15 to 40 nm.
The silver nanoparticles were tested against two pathogens: Escherichia coli, a bacterium and Candida albicans, a fungus. They found that 40 μg/ml of nanoparticles was 100% effective.
The team then checked the anticancer activity of the nanoparticles on breast cancer cell lines. They report a decline in cell viability, and inhibition of cell growth at a 29.6 μg/ml concentration of the nanoparticles .
Date palm trees are an attractive source of secondary metabolites with therapeutic value. Although some parts of this plant are used as antimicrobial agents, there is a paucity of scientific evidence in literature regarding its use as anticancer agent. The actual composition of the active components is also unknown.
Many Indian scientists have reported using extracts of different plants for synthesising silver nanoparticles. Now there is a need to conduct a meta analysis of the papers so far produced, to clarify the relative merits of using the extracts of a specific plant.
Materials Science and Engineering: C 89: 429-443 (2018); DOI: 10.1016/j.msec.2018.03.035