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Diatomite silica nanoparticles for drug delivery

Immacolata Ruggiero1, Monica Terracciano23, Nicola M Martucci1, Luca De Stefano2, Nunzia Migliaccio1, Rosarita Tatè4, Ivo Rendina2, Paolo Arcari1, Annalisa Lamberti1* and Ilaria Rea2

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Molecular Medicine and Medical Biotechnology, University of Naples Federico II, Naples 80131, Italy

2 Institute for Microelectronics and Microsystems, National Council of Research, Naples 80131, Italy

3 Department of Pharmacy, University of Naples Federico II, Naples 80131, Italy

4 Institute of Genetics and Biophysics, National Council of Research, Naples 80131, Italy

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Nanoscale Research Letters 2014, 9:329  doi:10.1186/1556-276X-9-329

Published: 3 July 2014


Diatomite is a natural fossil material of sedimentary origin, constituted by fragments of diatom siliceous skeletons. In this preliminary work, the properties of diatomite nanoparticles as potential system for the delivery of drugs in cancer cells were exploited. A purification procedure, based on thermal treatments in strong acid solutions, was used to remove inorganic and organic impurities from diatomite and to make them a safe material for medical applications. The micrometric diatomite powder was reduced in nanoparticles by mechanical crushing, sonication, and filtering. Morphological analysis performed by dynamic light scattering and transmission electron microscopy reveals a particles size included between 100 and 300 nm. Diatomite nanoparticles were functionalized by 3-aminopropyltriethoxysilane and labeled by tetramethylrhodamine isothiocyanate. Different concentrations of chemically modified nanoparticles were incubated with cancer cells and confocal microscopy was performed. Imaging analysis showed an efficient cellular uptake and homogeneous distribution of nanoparticles in cytoplasm and nucleus, thus suggesting their potentiality as nanocarriers for drug delivery.


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Diatomite; Porous silica nanoparticle; Drug delivery system; Surface modification