Taming the toxicity of carbon nanotubes
(15 May 2006: VIDYYA MEDICAL NEWS SERVICE) -- More incredible claims have been made about the future of nanotechnology than perhaps any other new field of science. Big claims for the small science have included many medical applications. Among them are microscopic biosensors and drug delivery modules that bring nanodevices into direct contact with living cells in the body.
New ways of controlling the toxicity of carbon nanotubes (CNTs) and other nanostructures are critical, however, to make those visions a reality. CNTs, for instance, typically kill the cells they touch.
Researchers at the University of California in Berkeley are reporting an advance in reducing CNT toxicity. It is scheduled for publication May 3 in the Journal of the American Chemical Society. The researchers coated CNTs with gylcans, biopolymers designed to mimic the glycoproteins that make up the natural surface of cells.
Tests showed that the coated CNT were nontoxic to cells, while uncoated CNTs killed cells. "This approach for interfacing CNTs with cells should accelerate their use in biological systems," the researchers said. Since glycans also are involved in a cell's ability to recognize and bind, the approach also could be used to target specific CNTs to specific cells.
The work resulted from a joint interdisciplinary collaboration between research groups at Berkeley headed by Carolyn R. Bertozzi (chemistry) and Alex Zettl (physics). The lead author, X. Chen, is a graduate student jointly supervised by Bertozzi and Zettl.>
"Interfacing Carbon Nanotubes With Living Cells."
Journal of the American Chemical Society(May 3, 2006)
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