Nano Bugle

A window into applied science supported by INL

New study on carbon nanotubes gives hope for medical applications

A study led by researchers at Karolinska Institutet, the University of Pittsburgh and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has shown for the first time that carbon nanotubes can be broken down by an enzyme – myeloperoxidase (MPO) – found in white blood cells.

Their discoveries are presented in Nature Nanotechnology and contradict what was previously believed, that carbon nanotubes are not broken down in the body or in nature.

“Previous studies have shown that carbon nanotubes could be used for introducing drugs or other substances into human cells,” says Bengt Fadeel, associate professor from Karolinska Institutet. “The problem has been not knowing how to control the breakdown of the nanotubes, which can caused unwanted toxicity and tissue damage.

Carbon nanotubes are a material consisting of a single layer of carbon atoms rolled into a tube with a diameter of only a couple of nanometres and a length that can range from tens of nanometres up to several micrometers.

Carbon nanotubes were once considered biopersistent in that they did not break down in body tissue or in nature. In recent years, research has shown that laboratory animals exposed to carbon nanotubes via inhalation or through injection into the abdominal cavity develop severe inflammation, impaired lung function and perhaps even to cancer.

The scientists hope that this new understanding of how MPO converts carbon nanotubes into water and carbon dioxide can be of significance to medicine.

 You can read the press release here and the full article in Nature Nanotechnology here.


April 21, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized

1 Comment »

  1. I understand we both are interested to work on the applications of carbon nanotubes. I am currently working on my thesis about graphene in my masteral level. I hope you can help me too to advance my study to a higher level through Phd in your country via any available scholarships. I am hoping your favorable response.

    Comment by Bernabe L. Linog | May 4, 2010 | Reply

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