Carbon nanotubes offer disguised drug delivery

Carbon Nanotubes

Carnegie Mellon scientists are making use of carbon nanotubes for drug delivery. The tubes are made of very simple components so that they are more readily taken up by cells.

The researchers wrapped the carbon nanotubes in proteins designed to camouflage the surface of the tubes. This way, they could deliver drugs to places normal outside substances cannot.

"The great thing about using carbon nanotubes to deliver drugs is that, scientifically, they're just carbon," said lead author Kris Dahl in a statement. "They're similar to graphite in pencils, diamond, or char--they're just organized in a different way. But because they're latticed in this certain way, cells don't break them down. Another advantage of this drug delivery method is the fact that these nanotubes are nearly completely inert to the cell. You can get tens of millions of them inside the cell before there's any real impact on the cell, and that means you can deliver a huge amount of a drug and it doesn't really disrupt the cells."

Dahl and her co-researcher Mohammed Islam will present their work at the Carbon Nanostructures in Medicine and Biology Symposium of the Electrochemical Society.

"Now that we understand how to disperse carbon nanotubes, how to control the toxicity, how to deliver them to the cells, how to detect them or identify where they are in the cell--now we are in a place where we can begin to target specific cells," Islam said. "Because carbon nanotubes have such a high surface area and they go into the cell by the millions, you can have a very high efficiency of delivery to a specific cell."

- here's the release