Can Antacids Combat Cancer Tumors?

Cancer Cell

Researchers have developed a method to halt the growth of cancerous tumors by adding nanoparticles to everyday antacid tablets.

For the novel method, Dr. Avik Som and Professor Samuel Achilefu used a special technique to develop nanoparticles from calcium carbonate which were injected intravenously into a mouse model to treat solid tumors. Data showed the compound changed the pH of the tumor environment, altering it from one that was acidic to alkaline. This change in the chemical environment prevented the cancer from growing.

The reason for this is because the pH of the surrounding environment correlates with metastasis. The key challenge with the study was altering the pH sufficiently. This centered on rendering the calcium carbonate molecules sufficiently small. To achieve this, the researchers used a method called polyethyleneglycol-based diffusion. This enabled them to synthesize 20- and 300-nanometer-sized calcium carbonate molecules. To stop the reduced size calcium carbonate molecules from growing, the researchers used albumin as a solvent. This also allowed the nanoparticles to be intravenously injected into the body.

The approach was a change from established nanoparticle research, where gold or silver tends to be used as the basis of the particles.

Further research will focus on the optimal dose of the nanoparticles relative to different tumor sizes.

The research was conducted at Washington University in St. Louis. The research is published in the journal Nanoscale. The research paper is titled “Monodispersed calcium carbonate nanoparticles modulate local pH and inhibit tumor growth in vivo.”

About the author

Tim Sandle

Dr. Tim Sandle is a chartered biologist and holds a first class honours degree in Applied Biology; a Masters degree in education; and has a doctorate from Keele University.