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Less Toxic and More Effective Carbon Nanotubes for Drug Delivery

James Rusling, Ph.D
NIEHS Grant R01ES013557

NIEHS-supported researchers at the University of Connecticut have found that single-walled carbon nanotubes treated with polyethylene glycol (PEG) make more effective and less toxic drug delivery vehicles that untreated nanotubes. These results give further credence to the use of drug delivery systems utilizing single-walled carbon nanotubes.

Carbon nanotubes have been touted for their potential uses in products ranging from cosmetics and drug delivery devices to the construction of a space elevator. However, concerns over their toxicity and potential to cause inflammatory reactions have hindered their uses.

These researchers layered carbon nanotubes with PEG which has been shown to improve their dispersion in aqueous solutions. Both PEG treated and untreated nanotubes were then incubated with the chemotherapeutic drug cisplatin. The nanotubes were then injected into laboratory mice and a number of cytotoxicity assays were performed. Untreated nanotubes were found to clump together in lung tissue while PEG-treated nanotubes showed little or no accumulation. Other assays revealed biliary or renal excretion routes of PEG-treated nanotubes. PEG-cisplatin nanotubes successfully inhibited growth of head and neck tumor grafts in the laboratory mice.

Citation: Bhirde AA, Patel S, Sousa AA, Patel V, Molinolo AA, Ji Y, Leapman RD, Gutkind JS, Rusling JF. Distribution and clearance of PEG-single-walled carbon nanotube cancer drug delivery vehicles in mice. Nanomedicine (Lond). 2010 Dec;5(10):1535-46.


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