No Longer Off-Limits, Carbon Nanotubes Show Promise for Use in Medical Therapies
Researchers in Europe Show CNTs Can Be Safe For Humans.Recent study results have found that functionalized carbon nanotubes can be quickly cleared from human blood and excreted in urine, alleviating some concerns about the safety of carbon nanotubes for people.
The carbon nanotubes used by the researchers are new, according to Dr. Kostas Kostarelos, Associate Professor & Deputy Head Centre for Drug Delivery Research at the University of London. “The CNT used in this study are new in the sense that there had not been studies reported previously studying DTPA-functionalised carbon nanotubes,” he tells NWN. “The functionalisation chemistry to link the DTPA onto the nanotube is not novel, as has been repeatedly described by us and our collaborators (Maurizio Prato and Alberto Bianco). Our three laboratories have worked very closely together in the last few years to develop a series of biologically and pharmacologically relevant nanotubes with different functional groups linked to them, maintaining an equally impressive aqueous solubility, based on the same chemistry. What is really novel, though, is the pharmacological profiling of carbon nanostuctures (in this case nanotubes) which has not been previously performed for carbon nanotubes.”
Dr. Kostaleros explains to NWN that primary funding for this work has come from the School of Pharmacy, and its collaborators (CNRS, France and University of Trieste, Italy) have also contributed by providing materials and money. This study did not attract investments from industry because “the pharmaceutical and biotech industry consider it high risk and quite immature as a technology. My opinion is that now is the time to invest before such technologies are already developed by others.”
Now that the team has proven that CNTs can pass through the human body safely, the next steps for this research is “to explore ways by which we can prolong the blood circulation of carbon nanotubes in order to give them enough time before excretion to get to a target tissue,” explains Dr. Kostaleros. The researchers will also look to pharmacological development of its functionalised nanotubes.
To learn more about the Pharmaceutical Bioengineering & Nanotechnology Group at the School of Pharmacy, University of London, visit http://cddr.pharmacy.ac.uk/main3.html.