Phyto-Facilitated Bimetallic ZnFe2O4 Nanoparticles via Boswellia carteri: Synthesis, Characterization, and Anti-Cancer Activity

Anticancer Agents Med Chem. 2021;21(13):1767-1772. doi: 10.2174/1871520621666201218114040.


Background: The growing dissatisfaction with the available traditional chemotherapeutic agents has enhanced the need to develop new methods for obtaining materials with more effective and safe anti-cancer properties. Over the past few years, the usage of metallic nanoparticles has been a target for researchers of different scientific and commercial fields due to their tiny sizes, environment-friendly properties, and a wide range of applications. To overcome the obstacles of traditional physical and chemical methods for the synthesis of such nanoparticles, a new, less expensive, and eco-friendly method has been adopted using natural existing organisms as a reducing agent to mediate the synthesis of the desired metallic nanoparticles from their precursors, a process called green biosynthesis of nanoparticles.

Objective: In the present study, zinc-iron bimetallic nanoparticles (ZnFe2O4) were synthesized via an aqueous extract of Boswellia carteri resin mixed with zinc acetate and iron chloride precursors, and they were tested for their anticancer activity.

Methods: Various analytic methods were applied for the characterization of the phyto synthesized ZnFe2O4, and they were tested for their anticancer activity against MDA-MB-231, K562, MCF-7 cancer cell lines, and normal fibroblasts.

Results: Our results demonstrate the synthesis of cubic structured bimetallic nanoparticles ZnFe2O4 with an average diameter of 10.54 nm. MTT cytotoxicity assay demonstrates that our phyto-synthesized ZnFe2O4 nanoparticles exhibited a selective and potent anticancer activity against K562 and MDA-MB-231 cell lines with IC50 values 4.53 μM and 4.19 μM, respectively.

Conclusion: In conclusion, our biosynthesized ZnFe2O4 nanoparticles show a promising, environmentally friendly, and low coast chemotherapeutic approach against selective cancers with a predicted low adverse side effect toward normal cells. Further, in vivo, advanced animal research should be done to execute their applicability in living organisms.

Keywords: Boswellia carteri; K562; ZnFe2O4; cancer; green-biosynthesis; nanoparticles.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic / chemistry
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic / isolation & purification
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic / pharmacology*
  • Boswellia / chemistry*
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Drug Screening Assays, Antitumor
  • Ferric Compounds / chemistry
  • Ferric Compounds / isolation & purification
  • Ferric Compounds / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Nanoparticles / chemistry*
  • Plant Extracts / chemistry
  • Plant Extracts / isolation & purification
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*
  • Structure-Activity Relationship
  • Zinc / chemistry
  • Zinc / isolation & purification
  • Zinc / pharmacology*


  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic
  • Ferric Compounds
  • Plant Extracts
  • ferrite
  • Zinc