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Cinnamon may be a treasure of green nanotechnology

Thursday, December 16, 2010 by: S. L. Baker, features writer
Tags: cinnamon, nanotechnology, health news

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(NaturalNews) Gold nanoparticles, so incredibly tiny they can't be seen by the naked eye, are used in electronics, healthcare products and as pharmaceuticals in some cancer treatments. Unfortunately, the positive applications of gold nanoparticles come with a downside -- producing the nanoparticles requires extremely toxic chemicals and harmful acids. And, because the nanotechnology industry is expected to produce large quantities of nanoparticles in the immediate future, serious concerns are being raised over the environmental impact of the global nanotechnological revolution and its current need for toxic materials.

But now University of Missouri (UM) scientists have found a way to make "green" nanotechnology by replacing almost all of the toxic chemicals required to make gold nanoparticles. How can this be accomplished? By using a spice found in most kitchens -- cinnamon.

For their study, which was recently published in the journal Pharmaceutical Research, MU scientist Kattesh Katti, professor of radiology and physics in the School of Medicine and the College of Arts and Science, senior research scientist at the University of Missouri Research Reactor and director of the Cancer Nanotechnology Platform, and his research team combined gold salts with cinnamon and stirred the mixture in water to synthesize gold nanoparticles. This new process not only uses no toxic materials, but it doesn't require any electricity, either.

There's another benefit, too. "Our gold nanoparticles are not only ecologically and biologically benign, they also are biologically active against cancer cells," Dr. Katti announced in a statement to the media.

While conducting their research, the scientists discovered that natural phytochemicals in cinnamon are released when the nanoparticles are created -- and these phytochemicals combined with gold nanoparticles form a promising treatment for cancer. That's because the phytochemicals are carried by the gold nanoparticles into cancer cells and assist in the destruction or imaging of malignancies.

"From our work in green nanotechnology, it is clear that cinnamon -- and other species such as herbs, leaves and seeds -- will serve as a reservoir of phytochemicals and has the capability to convert metals into nanoparticles," Dr. Katti said in a statement to the media. "Therefore, our approach to 'green' nanotechnology creates a renaissance symbolizing the indispensable role of Mother Nature in all future nanotechnological developments."

Dr. Katti, who is the editor of The International Journal of Green Nanotechnology, added that as more uses for nanotechnology are created, it is crucial that scientists find ways to establish a workable connection between nanotechnology and green science.

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