Authors: L. Lacerda, M. Prato, A. Bianco, K. Kostarelos
Affilation: The School of Pharmacy, University of London, United Kingdom
Pages: 232 - 235
Keywords: carbon nanotubes, nanosyringe
The development of nanomaterials for biomedical and biotechnological applications is an area of research that holds great promise and intense interest. Carbon nanotubes (CNT) are thought to lead to novel types of nanomedicines. In our laboratories, CNT were made compatible to physiological environments after functionalization by the 1,3-dipolar cycloaddition reaction. This has allowed their exploration as a platform to construct delivery systems for drugs and nucleic acids in vitro and in vivo. The interaction between cells and CNT is a critical issue that will determine any future biological application of such structures. In this communication we will show that various types of functionalized carbon nanotubes (f-CNT) exhibited a capacity to be uptaken by a wide range of cells (prokaryotic and eukaryotic) and can intracellularly traffick through different cellular barriers. Moreover, we will present the great potential offered by water-soluble f-CNT as new vectors for delivery of plasmid DNA to cells and organs. The mechanisms by which f-CNT are able to cross cell membranes and deliver their cargo will also be discussed. Energy-independent mechanisms are explained based on the cylindrical shape and high aspect ratio of f-CNT that can allow their penetration through the plasma membrane, similar to a ‘nanosyringe’.