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The Wonders of Silk Fibroin Biomaterials in the Treatment of Breast Cancer

Pinar Tulay, Nanyak Galam, Terin Adali
Critical Reviews in Eukaryotic Gene Expression 2018, 28 (2): 129-134
Breast cancer has continued to be a cause of increasing morbidity and mortality in women, being the most common cause of cancer-related deaths among them. Its management using chemotherapy is continually plagued with problems of systemic toxicity, lack of compliance by patients, and inadequate targeting of cancer cells. The future of breast cancer chemotherapy will likely involve the use of biocompatible high cell-targeting capacity drug-delivery vehicles like silk fibroin to ameliorate these problems. The utilization of silk fibroin nanoparticles to deliver cytotoxic drugs provides specificity, optimal entrapment, improved therapeutic index, and maximal breast cancer cell toxicity with minimal or no collateral damage to surrounding normal cells. The silk fibroin obtained from the cocoon of the Bombyx morii worm is processed and degummed to remove the sericin component; it is then made into nanoparticles utilizing the desolvation, ionic gelation, or electrospray method. It is then loaded with an appropriate chemotherapeutic drug (e.g., carboplatin), and characterization is performed using physico-chemical methods such as fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy, dynamic light scattering, or transmission electron microscopy. The nanoparticles are then tested for cytoxicity, and the induction of apoptosis on breast cancer cell lines MC-7 (Her2-) and MDA-MB-453 (Her2+). Toxicity and apoptosis are assessed using the MTT assay and ELISA methods, respectively. Silk fibroin has been demonstrated in various studies to be a very useful tool in specific active or passive drug delivery to target cancer cells, thus ensuring a maximum destruction and minimum damage to normal surrounding cells, which decreases systemic toxicity and enhances drug efficacy.


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