What is it about?

Materials that have at least one dimension, or contain components with at least one dimension that is approximately 1–100 nm in length are known as nanoparticles. In the last decade, biosynthesis of nanoparticles has received increasing attention due to a growing need to develop environmentally friendly, newer, safer and effective drug formulations, leading to the use of biological molecules such as plants, plant wastes, bacteria and fungi as templates for “green nanotechnology”. Silver nanoparticles (AgNPs) are of major importance because of ease of preparation, unique optical, electrical and thermal properties which enhances electrical conductivity, near infrared absorption and effective charge separation. Biosynthesis of AgNPs using plant sources offers several advantages, including cost-effectiveness, eco-friendliness and the elimination of high pressure, energy, temperature and toxic chemicals necessary in the traditional synthesis methods. AgNPs have received substantial attention as preservatives, effective antimicrobial and anticancer agents, biomedical sensors and detectors that exhibit low toxicity for in vitro and in vivo applications. Herbal drug delivery is limited by poor solubility, poor permeability, low bioavailability, instability in biological milieu, etc. These limitations can be overcome by attaching or encapsulating them with suitable nanomaterials which can significantly enhance the pharmacokinetics and greatly improve their performance. In this study, for the first time, AgNPs were synthesized from a spice blend of garlic, ginger and cayenne pepper. The AgNPs displayed high antibacterial and antioxidant activities against selected bacterial pathogens and free radicals, respectively. These suggest the possible use of the spice blend AgNPs in food packaging materials and also as disinfectant and cleaning agents. Further, the antioxidant activity of the AgNPs revealed their potential to protect against oxidative and free-radical processes. However, the nanoparticles did not exhibit any cytotoxic activity against MDA-MB-231 cancer cells, which imply that the spice blend AgNPs are not harmful to normal cells.

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Why is it important?

These spice blend nanoparticles would support the production of AgNPs with significantly enhanced pharmacokinetic properties and greatly improved therapeutic delivery and performance; with no harmful effects.


Writing this paper was exciting and enhanced my capacity for interdisciplinary research. The study has shown that some of the limitations of herbal drug delivery can be overcome by converting them into nanoparticles.

Dr Gloria Aderonke Otunola
University of Fort Hare, Alice 5700, South Africa

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: In vitro antibacterial, antioxidant and toxicity profile of silver nanoparticles green-synthesized and characterized from aqueous extract of a spice blend formulation, Biotechnology & Biotechnological Equipment, March 2018, Taylor & Francis, DOI: 10.1080/13102818.2018.1448301.
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