Navigation Links
Chemistry resolves toxic concerns about carbon nanotubes

Safety fears about carbon nanotubes, due to their structural similarity to asbestos, have been alleviated following research showing that reducing their length removes their toxic properties.

In a new study, published today in the journal Angewandte Chemie, evidence is provided that the asbestos-like reactivity and pathogenicity reported for long, pristine nanotubes can be completely alleviated if their surface is modified and their effective length is reduced as a result of chemical treatment.

First atomically described in the 1990s, carbon nanotubes are sheets of carbon atoms rolled up into hollow tubes just a few nanometres in diameter. Engineered carbon nanotubes can be chemically modified, with the addition of chemotherapeutic drugs, fluorescent tags or nucleic acids opening up applications in cancer and gene therapy.

Furthermore, these chemically modified carbon nanotubes can pierce the cell membrane, acting as a kind of 'nano-needle', allowing the possibility of efficient transport of therapeutic and diagnostic agents directly into the cytoplasm of cells.

Among their downsides however, have been concerns about their safety profile. One of the most serious concerns, highlighted in 2008, involves the carcinogenic risk from the exposure and persistence of such fibres in the body. Some studies indicate that when long untreated carbon nanotubes are injected to the abdominal cavity of mice they can induce unwanted responses resembling those associated with exposure to certain asbestos fibres.

In this paper, the authors describe two different reactions which ask if any chemical modification can render the nanotubes non-toxic. They conclude that not all chemical treatments alleviate the toxicity risks associated with the material. Only those reactions that are able to render carbon nanotubes short and stably suspended in biological fluids without aggregation are able to result in safe, risk-free material.

Professor Kostas Kostarelos, Chair of Nanomedicine at the UCL School of Pharmacy who led the research with his long term collaborators Doctor Alberto Bianco of the CNRS in Strasbourg, France and Professor Maurizio Prato of the University of Trieste, Italy, said: "The apparent structural similarity between carbon nanotubes and asbestos fibres has generated serious concerns about their safety profile and has resulted in many unreasonable proposals of a halt in the use of these materials even in well-controlled and strictly regulated applications, such as biomedical ones. What we show for the first time is that in order to design risk-free carbon nanotubes both chemical treatment and shortening are needed."

He added: "Creative strategies to identify the characteristics that nanoparticles should possess in order to be rendered 'safe-for-use', and the ways to achieve that, are essential as nanotechnology and its tools are maturing into applications and becoming part of our everyday lives."

Contact: Clare Ryan
University College London

Related biology news :

1. LAMIS -- a green chemistry alternative for laser spectroscopy
2. UCLAs Yi Tang receives Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award from EPA
3. Pulverized rocks, coral reefs, seawater chemistry, and continental collisions
4. Scientists connect seawater chemistry with climate change and evolution
5. Chemistry on Mars video with Curiosity Rover from the American Chemical Society
6. Changes in water chemistry leave lake critters defenseless
7. New Market Forecasts Available for Critical Global Biotechnology Testing and Screening Markets: Molecular Diagnostics, Hematology, Clinical Chemistry and Nucleic Acid Testing
8. Astrochemistry enters a bold new era with ALMA
9. Emory receives $20 million NSF grant for chemistry center
10. The Journal of Biological Chemistry commemorates an important 1987 discovery
11. Model sheds light on the chemistry that sparked the origin of life
Post Your Comments:
(Date:6/27/2016)... Research and Markets has announced the addition ... to their offering. The report ... to grow at a CAGR of 12.28% during the period 2016-2020. ... in-depth market analysis with inputs from industry experts. The report covers ... The report also includes a discussion of the key vendors operating ...
(Date:6/22/2016)... -- The American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics was once ... one of the fastest-growing trade shows during the Fastest 50 ... Las Vegas . Winners ... each of the following categories: net square feet of paid ... The 2015 ACMG Annual Meeting was ranked 23 out of ...
(Date:6/22/2016)... , June 22, 2016   Acuant ... and verification solutions, has partnered with RightCrowd ... solutions for Visitor Management, Self-Service Kiosks and ... products that add functional enhancements to existing ... corporations and venues with an automated ID ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/27/2016)... , June 27, 2016  Alex,s Lemonade Stand ... that that it will open a state-of-the-art bioinformatics lab, ... cancer research. This announcement comes as Liz Scott ... the National Cancer Moonshot Summit in Washington, ... Biden as a participant and advocate of pediatric cancer ...
(Date:6/27/2016)... 2016  Global demand for enzymes is forecast ... to $7.2 billion.  This market includes enzymes used ... biofuel production, animal feed, and other markets) and ... Food and beverages will remain the largest market ... of products containing enzymes in developing regions.  These ...
(Date:6/27/2016)... 2016 /PRNewswire/ - BIOREM Inc. (TSX-V: BRM) ("Biorem" or "the ... major shareholders, Clean Technology Fund I, LP and Clean ... based venture capital funds which together hold approximately ... fully diluted, as converted basis), that they have entered ... equity holdings in Biorem to TUS Holdings Co. Ltd. ...
(Date:6/27/2016)... , June 27, 2016  Sequenom, Inc. (NASDAQ: ... enabling healthier lives through the development of innovative products ... the United States denied its ... the claims of Sequenom,s U.S. Patent No. 6,258,540 (",540 ... criteria established by the Supreme Court,s Mayo Collaborative Services ...
Breaking Biology Technology: