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1.  Nanometer-long Ge-imogolite nanotubes cause sustained lung inflammation and fibrosis in rats 
Ge-imogolites are short aluminogermanate tubular nanomaterials with attractive prospected industrial applications. In view of their nano-scale dimensions and high aspect ratio, they should be examined for their potential to cause respiratory toxicity. Here, we evaluated the respiratory biopersistence and lung toxicity of 2 samples of nanometer-long Ge-imogolites.
Rats were intra-tracheally instilled with single wall (SW, 70 nm length) or double wall (DW, 62 nm length) Ge-imogolites (0.02-2 mg/rat), as well as with crocidolite and the hard metal particles WC-Co, as positive controls. The biopersistence of Ge-imogolites and their localization in the lung were assessed by ICP-MS, X-ray fluorescence, absorption spectroscopy and computed micro-tomography. Acute inflammation and genotoxicity (micronuclei in isolated type II pneumocytes) was assessed 3 d post-exposure; chronic inflammation and fibrosis after 2 m.
Cytotoxic and inflammatory responses were shown in bronchoalveolar lavage 3 d after instillation with Ge-imogolites. Sixty days after exposure, a persistent dose-dependent inflammation was still observed. Total lung collagen, reflected by hydroxyproline lung content, was increased after SW and DW Ge-imogolites. Histology revealed lung fibre reorganization and accumulation in granulomas with epithelioid cells and foamy macrophages and thickening of the alveolar walls. Overall, the inflammatory and fibrotic responses induced by SW and DW Ge-imogolites were more severe (on a mass dose basis) than those induced by crocidolite. A persistent fraction of Ge-imogolites (15% of initial dose) was mostly detected as intact structures in rat lungs 2 m after instillation and was localized in fibrotic alveolar areas. In vivo induction of micronuclei was significantly increased 3 d after SW and DW Ge-imogolite instillation at non-inflammatory doses, indicating the contribution of primary genotoxicity.
We showed that nm-long Ge-imogolites persist in the lung and promote genotoxicity, sustained inflammation and fibrosis, indicating that short high aspect ratio nanomaterials should not be considered as innocuous materials. Our data also suggest that Ge-imogolite structure and external surface determine their toxic activity.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12989-014-0067-z) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4276264  PMID: 25497478
Lung; Inflammation; Fibrosis; Genotoxicity; Nanomaterial; Fibre; High aspect ratio; Biopersistence
2.  High-Aluminum-Affinity Silica Is a Nanoparticle That Seeds Secondary Aluminosilicate Formation 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e84397.
Despite the importance and abundance of aluminosilicates throughout our natural surroundings, their formation at neutral pH is, surprisingly, a matter of considerable debate. From our experiments in dilute aluminum and silica containing solutions (pH ~ 7) we previously identified a silica polymer with an extraordinarily high affinity for aluminium ions (high-aluminum-affinity silica polymer, HSP). Here, further characterization shows that HSP is a colloid of approximately 2.4 nm in diameter with a mean specific surface area of about 1,000 m2 g-1 and it competes effectively with transferrin for Al(III) binding. Aluminum binding to HSP strongly inhibited its decomposition whilst the reaction rate constant for the formation of the β-silicomolybdic acid complex indicated a diameter between 3.6 and 4.1 nm for these aluminum-containing nanoparticles. Similarly, high resolution microscopic analysis of the air dried aluminum-containing silica colloid solution revealed 3.9 ± 1.3 nm sized crystalline Al-rich silica nanoparticles (ASP) with an estimated Al:Si ratio of between 2 and 3 which is close to the range of secondary aluminosilicates such as imogolite. Thus the high-aluminum-affinity silica polymer is a nanoparticle that seeds early aluminosilicate formation through highly competitive binding of Al(III) ions. In niche environments, especially in vivo, this may serve as an alternative mechanism to polyhydroxy Al(III) species binding monomeric silica to form early phase, non-toxic aluminosilicates.
PMCID: PMC3862809  PMID: 24349573
3.  Lipid Bilayers Covalently Anchored to Carbon Nanotubes 
Langmuir  2012;28(21):8174-8182.
The unique physical and electrical properties of carbon nanotubes make them an exciting material for applications in various fields such as bioelectronics and biosensing. Due to the poor water solubility of carbon nanotubes, functionalization for such applications has been a challenge. Of particular need are functionalization methods for integrating carbon nanotubes with biomolecules and constructing novel hybrid nanostructures for bionanoelectronic applications. We present a novel method for the fabrication of dispersible, biocompatible carbon nanotube-based materials. Multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs) are covalently modified with primary amine-bearing phospholipids in a carbodiimide-activated reaction. These modified carbon nanotubes have good dispersibility in nonpolar solvents. Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy shows peaks attributable to the formation of amide bonds between lipids and the nanotube surface. Simple sonication of lipid-modified nanotubes with other lipid molecules leads to the formation of a uniform lipid bilayer coating the nanotubes. These bilayer-coated nanotubes are highly dispersible and stable in aqueous solution. Confocal fluorescence microscopy shows labeled lipids on the surface of bilayer-modified nanotubes. Transmission electron microscopy (TEM) shows the morphology of dispersed bilayer-coated MWCNTs. Fluorescence quenching of lipid-coated MWCNTs confirms the bilayer configuration of the lipids on the nanotube surface and fluorescence anisotropy measurements show that the bilayer is fluid above the gel-to-liquid transition temperature. The membrane protein α-hemolysin spontaneously inserts into the MWCNT-supported bilayer, confirming the biomimetic membrane structure. These biomimetic nanostructures are a promising platform for the integration of carbon nanotube-based materials with biomolecules.
PMCID: PMC3378680  PMID: 22568448
4.  A liquid-crystalline hexagonal columnar phase in highly-dilute suspensions of imogolite nanotubes 
Nature Communications  2016;7:10271.
Liquid crystals have found wide applications in many fields ranging from detergents to information displays and they are also increasingly being used in the ‘bottom-up' self-assembly approach of material nano-structuration. Moreover, liquid-crystalline organizations are frequently observed by biologists. Here we show that one of the four major lyotropic liquid-crystal phases, the columnar one, is much more stable on dilution than reported so far in literature. Indeed, aqueous suspensions of imogolite nanotubes, at low ionic strength, display the columnar liquid-crystal phase at volume fractions as low as ∼0.2%. Consequently, due to its low visco-elasticity, this columnar phase is easily aligned in an alternating current electric field, in contrast with usual columnar liquid-crystal phases. These findings should have important implications for the statistical physics of the suspensions of charged rods and could also be exploited in materials science to prepare ordered nanocomposites and in biophysics to better understand solutions of rod-like biopolymers.
Liquid crystals are grouped into four main classes—nematic, lamellar, cubic and columnar—depending on their symmetries. Here, the authors show for the first time that a columnar phase can form in suspensions of imogolite nanotubes at very low concentrations.
PMCID: PMC4728447  PMID: 26728415
5.  Tungsten Disulfide Nanotubes Reinforced Biodegradable Polymers for Bone Tissue Engineering 
Acta biomaterialia  2013;9(9):8365-8373.
In this study, we have investigated the efficacy of inorganic nanotubes as reinforcing agents to improve the mechanical properties of poly(propylene fumarate) (PPF) composites as a function of nanomaterial loading concentration (0.01-0.2 wt%). Tungsten disulfide nanotubes (WSNTs) were used as reinforcing agents in the experimental groups. Single- and multi- walled carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs and MWCNTs) were used as positive controls, and crosslinked PPF composites were used as baseline control. Mechanical testing (compression and three-point bending) shows a significant enhancement (up to 28-190%) in the mechanical properties (compressive modulus, compressive yield strength, flexural modulus, and flexural yield strength) of WSNT reinforced PPF nanocomposites compared to the baseline control. In comparison to positive controls, at various concentrations, significant improvements in the mechanical properties of WSNT nanocomposites were also observed. In general, the inorganic nanotubes (WSNTs) showed a better (up to 127%) or equivalent mechanical reinforcement compared to carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs and MWCNTs). Sol fraction analysis showed significant increases in the crosslinking density of PPF in the presence of WSNTs (0.01-0.2 wt%). Transmission electron microscopy (TEM) analysis on thin sections of crosslinked nanocomposites showed the presence of WSNTs as individual nanotubes in the PPF matrix, whereas SWCNTs and MWCNTs existed as micron sized aggregates. The trend in the surface area of nanostructures obtained by BET surface area analysis was SWCNTs > MWCNTs > WSNTs. The BET surface area analysis, TEM analysis, and sol fraction analysis results taken together suggest that chemical composition (inorganic vs. carbon nanomaterials), presence of functional groups (such as sulfide and oxysulfide), and individual dispersion of the nanomaterials in the polymer matrix (absence of aggregation of the reinforcing agent) are the key parameters affecting the mechanical properties of nanostructure-reinforced PPF composites, and the reason for the observed increases in the mechanical properties compared to the baseline and positive controls.
PMCID: PMC3732565  PMID: 23727293
polymer nanocomposites; carbon nanotubes; tungsten nanotubes; mechanical properties; bone tissue engineering
6.  Structural and Functional Hierarchy in Photosynthetic Energy Conversion—from Molecules to Nanostructures 
Basic principles of structural and functional requirements of photosynthetic energy conversion in hierarchically organized machineries are reviewed. Blueprints of photosynthesis, the energetic basis of virtually all life on Earth, can serve the basis for constructing artificial light energy-converting molecular devices. In photosynthetic organisms, the conversion of light energy into chemical energy takes places in highly organized fine-tunable systems with structural and functional hierarchy. The incident photons are absorbed by light-harvesting complexes, which funnel the excitation energy into reaction centre (RC) protein complexes containing redox-active chlorophyll molecules; the primary charge separations in the RCs are followed by vectorial transport of charges (electrons and protons) in the photosynthetic membrane. RCs possess properties that make their use in solar energy-converting and integrated optoelectronic systems feasible. Therefore, there is a large interest in many laboratories and in the industry toward their use in molecular devices. RCs have been bound to different carrier matrices, with their photophysical and photochemical activities largely retained in the nano-systems and with electronic connection to conducting surfaces. We show examples of RCs bound to carbon-based materials (functionalized and non-functionalized single- and multiwalled carbon nanotubes), transitional metal oxides (ITO) and conducting polymers and porous silicon and characterize their photochemical activities. Recently, we adapted several physical and chemical methods for binding RCs to different nanomaterials. It is generally found that the P+(QAQB)− charge pair, which is formed after single saturating light excitation is stabilized after the attachment of the RCs to the nanostructures, which is followed by slow reorganization of the protein structure. Measuring the electric conductivity in a direct contact mode or in electrochemical cell indicates that there is an electronic interaction between the protein and the inorganic carrier matrices. This can be a basis of sensing element of bio-hybrid device for biosensor and/or optoelectronic applications.
PMCID: PMC4666181  PMID: 26619890
Photosynthesis; Bio-composites; Nano-composites; Bioelectronics
7.  Antibacterial activity and cytotoxicity of multi-walled carbon nanotubes decorated with silver nanoparticles 
Recently, various nanoscale materials, including silver (Ag) nanoparticles, have been actively studied for their capacity to effectively prevent bacterial growth. A critical challenge is to enhance the antibacterial properties of nanomaterials while maintaining their biocompatibility. The conjugation of multiple nanomaterials with different dimensions, such as spherical nanoparticles and high-aspect-ratio nanotubes, may increase the target-specific antibacterial capacity of the consequent nanostructure while retaining an optimal biocompatibility. In this study, multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs) were treated with a mixture of acids and decorated with Ag nanoparticles via a chemical reduction of Ag cations by ethanol solution. The synthesized Ag-MWCNT complexes were characterized by transmission electron microscopy, X-ray diffractometry, and energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy. The antibacterial function of Ag-MWCNTs was evaluated against Methylobacterium spp. and Sphingomonas spp. In addition, the biocompatibility of Ag-MWCNTs was evaluated using both mouse liver hepatocytes (AML 12) and human peripheral blood mononuclear cells. Finally, we determined the minimum amount of Ag-MWCNTs required for a biocompatible yet effective antibacterial treatment modality. We report that 30 μg/mL of Ag-MWCNTs confers antibacterial functionality while maintaining minimal cytotoxicity toward both human and animal cells. The results reported herein would be beneficial for researchers interested in the efficient preparation of hybrid nanostructures and in determining the minimum amount of Ag-MWCNTs necessary to effectively hinder the growth of bacteria.
PMCID: PMC4200021  PMID: 25336943
antimicrobial; nanoconstructs; toxicity
8.  Dual effects and mechanism of TiO2 nanotube arrays in reducing bacterial colonization and enhancing C3H10T1/2 cell adhesion 
Competition occurs between the osteoblasts in regional microenvironments and pathogens introduced during surgery, on the surface of bone implants, such as joint prostheses. The aim of this study was to modulate bacterial and osteoblast adhesion on implant surfaces by using a nanotube array. Titanium oxide (TiO2) nanotube arrays, 30 nm or 80 nm in diameter, were prepared by a two-step anodization on titanium substrates. Mechanically polished and acid-etched titanium samples were also prepared to serve as control groups. The standard strains of Staphylococcus epidermidis (S. epidermidis, American Type Culture Collection [ATCC]35984) and mouse C3H10T1/2 cell lines with osteogenic potential were used to evaluate the different responses to the nanotube arrays, in bacteria and eukaryotic cells. We found that the initial adhesion and colonization of S. epidermidis on the surface of the TiO2 nanotube arrays were significantly reduced and that the adhesion of C3H10T1/2 cells on the surface of the TiO2 nanotube arrays was significantly enhanced when compared with the control samples. Based on a surface analysis of all four groups, we observed increased surface roughness, decreased water contact angles, and an enhanced concentration of oxygen and fluorine atoms on the TiO2 nanotube surface. We conclude that the TiO2 nanotube surface can reduce bacterial colonization and enhance C3H10T1/2 cell adhesion; multiple physical and chemical properties of the TiO2 nanotube surface may contribute to these dual effects.
PMCID: PMC3747852  PMID: 23983463
bacterial adhesion; titanium implant; surface modification
9.  Biodurability of Single-Walled Carbon Nanotubes Depends on Surface Functionalization 
Carbon  2010;48(7):1961-1969.
Recent research has led to increased concern about the potential adverse human health impacts of carbon nanotubes, and further work is needed to better characterize those risks and develop risk management strategies. One of the most important determinants of the chronic pathogenic potential of a respirable fiber is its biological durability, which affects the long-term dose retained in the lungs, or biopersistence. The present article characterizes the biodurability of single-walled carbon nanotubes using an in vitro assay simulating the phagolysosome. Biodurability is observed to depend on the chemistry of nanotube surface functionalization. Single-walled nanotubes with carboxylated surfaces are unique in their ability to undergo 90-day degradation in a phagolysosomal simulant leading to length reduction and accumulation of ultrafine solid carbonaceous debris. Unmodified, ozone-treated, and aryl-sulfonated tubes do not degrade under these conditions. We attribute the difference to the unique chemistry of acid carboxylation, which not only introduces COOH surface groups, but also causes collateral damage to the tubular graphenic backbone in the form of neighboring active sites that provide points of attack for further oxidative degradation. These results suggest the strategic use of surface carboxylation in nanotube applications where biodegradation may improve safety or add function.
PMCID: PMC2844903  PMID: 20352066
10.  Revealing the Adsorption Mechanisms of Nitroxides on Ultrapure, Metallicity-Sorted Carbon Nanotubes 
ACS Nano  2014;8(2):1375-1383.
Carbon nanotubes are a natural choice as gas sensor components given their high surface to volume ratio, electronic properties, and capability to mediate chemical reactions. However, a realistic assessment of the interaction of the tube wall and the adsorption processes during gas phase reactions has always been elusive. Making use of ultraclean single-walled carbon nanotubes, we have followed the adsorption kinetics of NO2 and found a physisorption mechanism. Additionally, the adsorption reaction directly depends on the metallic character of the samples. Franck–Condon satellites, hitherto undetected in nanotube–NOx systems, were resolved in the N 1s X-ray absorption signal, revealing a weak chemisorption, which is intrinsically related to NO dimer molecules. This has allowed us to identify that an additional signal observed in the higher binding energy region of the core level C 1s photoemission signal is due to the C=O species of ketene groups formed as reaction byproducts . This has been supported by density functional theory calculations. These results pave the way toward the optimization of nanotube-based sensors with tailored sensitivity and selectivity to different species at room temperature.
PMCID: PMC3936481  PMID: 24404865
carbon nanotube sensors; X-ray absorption; physisorption; chemisorption; photoemission
11.  Rapid Isolation of Viable Circulating Tumor Cells from Patient Blood Samples 
Circulating tumor cells (CTC) are cells that disseminate from a primary tumor throughout the circulatory system and that can ultimately form secondary tumors at distant sites. CTC count can be used to follow disease progression based on the correlation between CTC concentration in blood and disease severity1. As a treatment tool, CTC could be studied in the laboratory to develop personalized therapies. To this end, CTC isolation must cause no cellular damage, and contamination by other cell types, particularly leukocytes, must be avoided as much as possible2. Many of the current techniques, including the sole FDA-approved device for CTC enumeration, destroy CTC as part of the isolation process (for more information see Ref. 2). A microfluidic device to capture viable CTC is described, consisting of a surface functionalized with E-selectin glycoprotein in addition to antibodies against epithelial markers3. To enhance device performance a nanoparticle coating was applied consisting of halloysite nanotubes, an aluminosilicate nanoparticle harvested from clay4. The E-selectin molecules provide a means to capture fast moving CTC that are pumped through the device, lending an advantage over alternative microfluidic devices wherein longer processing times are necessary to provide target cells with sufficient time to interact with a surface. The antibodies to epithelial targets provide CTC-specificity to the device, as well as provide a readily adjustable parameter to tune isolation. Finally, the halloysite nanotube coating allows significantly enhanced isolation compared to other techniques by helping to capture fast moving cells, providing increased surface area for protein adsorption, and repelling contaminating leukocytes3,4. This device is produced by a straightforward technique using off-the-shelf materials, and has been successfully used to capture cancer cells from the blood of metastatic cancer patients. Captured cells are maintained for up to 15 days in culture following isolation, and these samples typically consist of >50% viable primary cancer cells from each patient. This device has been used to capture viable CTC from both diluted whole blood and buffy coat samples. Ultimately, we present a technique with functionality in a clinical setting to develop personalized cancer therapies.
PMCID: PMC3471307  PMID: 22733259
Bioengineering;  Issue 64;  Biomedical Engineering;  Cancer Biology;  Circulating tumor cells;  metastasis;  selectin;  nanotechnology;  halloysite nanotubes;  cell isolation;  cancer
12.  The effects of hierarchical micro/nanosurfaces decorated with TiO2 nanotubes on the bioactivity of titanium implants in vitro and in vivo 
In the present work, a hierarchical hybrid micro/nanostructured titanium surface was obtained by sandblasting with large grit and acid etching (SLA), and nanotubes of different diameters (30 nm, 50 nm, and 80 nm) were superimposed by anodization. The effect of each SLA-treated surface decorated with nanotubes (SLA + 30 nm, SLA + 50 nm, and SLA + 80 nm) on osteogenesis was studied in vitro and in vivo. The human MG63 osteosarcoma cell line was used for cytocompatibility evaluation, which showed that cell adhesion and proliferation were dramatically enhanced on SLA + 30 nm. In comparison with cells grown on the other tested surfaces, those grown on SLA + 80 nm showed an enhanced expression of osteogenesis-related genes. Cell spread was also enhanced on SLA + 80 nm. A canine model was used for in vivo evaluation of bone bonding. Histological examination demonstrated that new bone was formed more rapidly on SLA-treated surfaces with nanotubes (especially SLA + 80 nm) than on those without nanotubes. All of these results indicate that SLA + 80 nm is favorable for promoting the activity of osteoblasts and early bone bonding.
PMCID: PMC4646597  PMID: 26635472
nanotopography; osseointegration; dental and orthopedic implant; titanium
13.  Gold Nanopopcorn Attached Single-Walled Carbon Nanotube Hybrid for Rapid Detection and Killing of Bacteria 
We report a strategy to fabricate a rapid and stable surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS)-based hybrid nanomaterial using gold nanopopcorns attached single-walled carbon nanotubes (AuNP@f3-SWCNTs) for label-free detection and photothermal killing of bacteria. Herein, previously ester-functionalized single-walled carbon nanotubes (f1-SWCNTs) undergo 1,3-dipolar cycloaddition reaction with in-situ generated nitrile imine under Microwave (MW) irradiation to form a doubly ester terminated SWCNTs cycloadduct (f2-SWCNTs). The ester terminals are further modified with 4-aminothiophenol (4-ATP) under MW-irradiation to form thiol-terminated SWCNTs templates (f3-SWCNTs) that allow gold nanopopcorns (AuNPs) to covalently and uniformly attach at a minimum inter-particle distance thus yielding a hybrid nanomaterial (AuNP@f3-SWCNT) with good aqueous stability and abundant ‘hotspots’. Consequently, monoclonal E. coli antibody-conjugated bioassays fabricated with our AuNP@f3-SWCNT substrates (mAb-AuNP@f3-SWCNT) rapidly detect E. coli in water with good selectivity and impressive SERS sensitivity. The detection limit of E. coli 49979, selected as a model to establish proof of principle, was found to be 1.0×102 CFU/mL. Furthermore, the AuNP@f3-SWCNT hybrid nanomaterial offers impressive photothermal pathogen killing effects. The synergy-type enhancement effect arising from the inherent noble properties of the respective components of the hybrid nanomaterial indicate that our AuNP@f3-SWCNT has the potential for further application in multiplex detection in samples.
PMCID: PMC4234150  PMID: 25414794
14.  DNA as a Powerful Tool for Morphology Control, Spatial Positioning, and Dynamic Assembly of Nanoparticles 
Accounts of Chemical Research  2014;47(6):1881-1890.
Several properties of nanomaterials, such as morphologies (e.g., shapes and surface structures) and distance dependent properties (e.g., plasmonic and quantum confinement effects), make nanomaterials uniquely qualified as potential choices for future applications from catalysis to biomedicine. To realize the full potential of these nanomaterials, it is important to demonstrate fine control of the morphology of individual nanoparticles, as well as precise spatial control of the position, orientation, and distances between multiple nanoparticles. In addition, dynamic control of nanomaterial assembly in response to multiple stimuli, with minimal or no error, and the reversibility of the assemblies are also required. In this Account, we summarize recent progress of using DNA as a powerful programmable tool to realize the above goals. First, inspired by the discovery of genetic codes in biology, we have discovered DNA sequence combinations to control different morphologies of nanoparticles during their growth process and have shown that these effects are synergistic or competitive, depending on the sequence combination. The DNA, which guides the growth of the nanomaterial, is stable and retains its biorecognition ability. Second, by taking advantage of different reactivities of phosphorothioate and phosphodiester backbone, we have placed phosphorothioate at selective positions on different DNA nanostructures including DNA tetrahedrons. Bifunctional linkers have been used to conjugate phosphorothioate on one end and bind nanoparticles or proteins on the other end. In doing so, precise control of distances between two or more nanoparticles or proteins with nanometer resolution can be achieved. Furthermore, by developing facile methods to functionalize two hemispheres of Janus nanoparticles with two different DNA sequences regioselectively, we have demonstrated directional control of nanomaterial assembly, where DNA strands with specific hybridization serve as orthogonal linkers. Third, by using functional DNA that includes DNAzyme, aptamer, and aptazyme, dynamic control of assemblies of gold nanoparticles, quantum dots, carbon nanotubes, and iron oxide nanoparticles in response to one or more stimuli cooperatively have been achieved, resulting in colorimetric, fluorescent, electrochemical, and magnetic resonance signals for a wide range of targets, such as metal ions, small molecules, proteins, and intact cells. Fourth, by mimicking biology, we have employed DNAzymes as proofreading units to remove errors in nanoparticle assembly and further used DNAzyme cascade reactions to modify or repair DNA sequences involved in the assembly. Finally, by taking advantage of different affinities of biotin and desthiobiotin toward streptavidin, we have demonstrated reversible assembly of proteins on DNA origami.
PMCID: PMC4066914  PMID: 24871359
15.  Self-assembly of carbon nanotubes and antibodies on tumours for targeted, amplified delivery 
Nature nanotechnology  2013;8(10):763-771.
Single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWNTs) can deliver imaging agents or drugs to tumours and offer significant advantages over approaches based on antibodies or other nanomaterials. In particular, the nanotubes can carry a substantial amount of cargo (100 times more than a monoclonal antibody), but can still be rapidly eliminated from circulation by renal filtration, like a small molecule, due to their high aspect ratio. Here we show that SWNTs can target tumours in a two-step approach in which nanotubes modified with morpholino oligonucleotide sequences bind to cancer cells that have been pre-targeted with antibodies modified with oligonucleotide strands complementary to those on the nanotubes. The nanotubes can carry fluorophores or radioisotopes, and were shown to selectively bind to cancer cells in vitro and in tumour-bearing xenografted mice. The binding process is also found to lead to antigen capping and internalization of the antibody/nanotube complexes. The nanotube conjugates were labelled with both alpha-particle and gamma-ray emitting isotopes, at high specific activities. Conjugates labelled with alpha-particle generating 225Ac were found to clear rapidly, thus mitigating radioisotope toxicity, and were shown to be therapeutically effective in vivo.
PMCID: PMC3798027  PMID: 24077028
16.  Conducting-Polymer Nanotubes Improve Electrical Properties, Mechanical Adhesion, Neural Attachment, and Neurite Outgrowth of Neural Electrodes 
An in vitro comparison of conducting-polymer nanotubes of poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene) (PEDOT) and poly(pyrrole) (PPy) and to their film counterparts is reported. Impedance, charge-capacity density (CCD), tendency towards delamination, and neurite outgrowth are compared. For the same deposition charge density, PPy films and nanotubes grow relatively faster vertically, while PEDOT films and nanotubes grow more laterally. For the same deposition charge density (1.44 C cm–2), PPy nanotubes and PEDOT nanotubes have lower impedance (19.5 ± 2.1 kΩ for PPy nanotubes and 2.5 ± 1.4 kΩ for PEDOT nanotubes at 1 kHz) and higher CCD (184 ± 5.3 mC cm–2 for PPy nanotubes and 392 ± 6.2 mC cm–2 for PEDOT nanotubes) compared to their film counterparts. However, PEDOT nanotubes decrease the impedance of neural-electrode sites by about two orders of magnitude (bare iridium 468.8 ± 13.3 kΩ at 1 kHz) and increase capacity of charge density by about three orders of magnitude (bare iridium 0.1 ± 0.5 mC cm–2). During cyclic voltammetry measurements, both PPy and PEDOT nanotubes remain adherent on the surface of the silicon dioxide while PPy and PEDOT films delaminate. In experiments of primary neurons with conducting-polymer nanotubes, cultured dorsal root ganglion explants remain more intact and exhibit longer neurites (1400 ± 95 μm for PPy nanotubes and 2100 ± 150 μm for PEDOT nanotubes) than their film counterparts. These findings suggest that conducting-polymer nanotubes may improve the long-term function of neural microelectrodes.
PMCID: PMC3045566  PMID: 20077424
bioelectronics; conducting polymers; nanotubes; neural electrodes; neurite
17.  Monitoring Transport Across Modified Nanoporous Alumina Membranes 
Sensors (Basel, Switzerland)  2007;7(11):2942-2952.
This paper describes the use of several characterization methods to examine alumina nanotubule membranes that have been modified with specific silanes. The function of these silanes is to alter the transport properties through the membrane by changing the local environment inside the alumina nanotube. The presence of alkyl groups, either long (C18) or short and branched (isopropyl) hydrocarbon chains, on these silanes significantly decreases the rate of transport of permeant molecules through membranes containing alumina nanotubes as monitored via absorbance spectroscopy. The presence of an ionic surfactant can alter the polarity of these modified nanotubes, which correlates to an increased transport of ions. Fluorescent spectroscopy is also utilized to enhance the sensitivity of detecting these permeant molecules. Confirmation of the alkylsilane attachment to the alumina membrane is achieved with traditional infrared spectroscopy, which can also examine the lifetime of the modified membrane. The physical parameters of these silane-modified porous alumina membranes are studied via scanning electron microscopy. The alumina nanotubes are not physically closed off or capped by the silanes that are attached to the alumina surfaces.
PMCID: PMC3965222
Porous alumina membranes; sensors; nanotubes; silanization; membrane modification; spectroscopy
18.  Computational Design of a Carbon Nanotube Fluorofullerene Biosensor 
Sensors (Basel, Switzerland)  2012;12(10):13720-13735.
Carbon nanotubes offer exciting opportunities for devising highly-sensitive detectors of specific molecules in biology and the environment. Detection limits as low as 10−11 M have already been achieved using nanotube-based sensors. We propose the design of a biosensor comprised of functionalized carbon nanotube pores embedded in a silicon-nitride or other membrane, fluorofullerene-Fragment antigen-binding (Fab fragment) conjugates, and polymer beads with complementary Fab fragments. We show by using molecular and stochastic dynamics that conduction through the (9, 9) exohydrogenated carbon nanotubes is 20 times larger than through the Ion Channel Switch ICS™ biosensor, and fluorofullerenes block the nanotube entrance with a dissociation constant as low as 37 pM. Under normal operating conditions and in the absence of analyte, fluorofullerenes block the nanotube pores and the polymer beads float around in the reservoir. When analyte is injected into the reservoir the Fab fragments attached to the fluorofullerene and polymer bead crosslink to the analyte. The drag of the much larger polymer bead then acts to pull the fluorofullerene from the nanotube entrance, thereby allowing the flow of monovalent cations across the membrane. Assuming a tight seal is formed between the two reservoirs, such a biosensor would be able to detect one channel opening and thus one molecule of analyte making it a highly sensitive detection design.
PMCID: PMC3545589  PMID: 23202018
carbon nanotube; biosensor; fluorofullerene; molecular dynamics; distributional molecular dynamics; proof-of-concept
19.  Analytical modeling of glucose biosensors based on carbon nanotubes 
In recent years, carbon nanotubes have received widespread attention as promising carbon-based nanoelectronic devices. Due to their exceptional physical, chemical, and electrical properties, namely a high surface-to-volume ratio, their enhanced electron transfer properties, and their high thermal conductivity, carbon nanotubes can be used effectively as electrochemical sensors. The integration of carbon nanotubes with a functional group provides a good and solid support for the immobilization of enzymes. The determination of glucose levels using biosensors, particularly in the medical diagnostics and food industries, is gaining mass appeal. Glucose biosensors detect the glucose molecule by catalyzing glucose to gluconic acid and hydrogen peroxide in the presence of oxygen. This action provides high accuracy and a quick detection rate. In this paper, a single-wall carbon nanotube field-effect transistor biosensor for glucose detection is analytically modeled. In the proposed model, the glucose concentration is presented as a function of gate voltage. Subsequently, the proposed model is compared with existing experimental data. A good consensus between the model and the experimental data is reported. The simulated data demonstrate that the analytical model can be employed with an electrochemical glucose sensor to predict the behavior of the sensing mechanism in biosensors.
PMCID: PMC3898395  PMID: 24428818
Carbon nanotube; SWCNT FET; Glucose detection; Biosensor; Analytical model; I-V characteristics; PBS; Glucose oxide
20.  Carbon nanomaterials combined with metal nanoparticles for theranostic applications 
British Journal of Pharmacology  2015;172(4):975-991.
Among targeted delivery systems, platforms with nanosize dimensions, such as carbon nanomaterials (CNMs) and metal nanoparticles (NPs), have shown great potential in biomedical applications. They have received considerable interest in recent years, especially with respect to their potential utilization in the field of cancer diagnosis and therapy. The many functions of nanomaterials provide opportunities to use them as multimodal agents for theranostics, a combination of therapy and diagnosis. Carbon nanotubes and graphene are some of the most widely used CNMs because of their unique structural and physicochemical properties. Their high specific surface area allows for efficient drug loading and the possibility of functionalization with various bioactive molecules. In addition, CNMs are ideal platforms for the attachment of NPs. In the biomedical field, NPs have also shown tremendous potential for use in drug delivery, non-invasive tumour imaging and early detection due to their optical and magnetic properties. NP/CNM hybrids not only combine the unique properties of the NPs and CNMs but they also exhibit new properties arising from interactions between the two entities. In this review, the preparation of CNMs conjugated to different types of metal NPs and their applications in diagnosis, imaging, therapy and theranostics are presented.
PMCID: PMC4314189  PMID: 25323135
21.  Carbon Nanotubes: Artificial Nanomaterials to Engineer Single Neurons and Neuronal Networks 
ACS Chemical Neuroscience  2012;3(8):611-618.
In the past decade, nanotechnology applications to the nervous system have often involved the study and the use of novel nanomaterials to improve the diagnosis and therapy of neurological diseases. In the field of nanomedicine, carbon nanotubes are evaluated as promising materials for diverse therapeutic and diagnostic applications. Besides, carbon nanotubes are increasingly employed in basic neuroscience approaches, and they have been used in the design of neuronal interfaces or in that of scaffolds promoting neuronal growth in vitro. Ultimately, carbon nanotubes are thought to hold the potential for the development of innovative neurological implants. In this framework, it is particularly relevant to document the impact of interfacing such materials with nerve cells. Carbon nanotubes were shown, when modified with biologically active compounds or functionalized in order to alter their charge, to affect neurite outgrowth and branching. Notably, purified carbon nanotubes used as scaffolds can promote the formation of nanotube–neuron hybrid networks, able per se to affect neuron integrative abilities, network connectivity, and synaptic plasticity. We focus this review on our work over several years directed to investigate the ability of carbon nanotube platforms in providing a new tool for nongenetic manipulations of neuronal performance and network signaling.
PMCID: PMC3419456  PMID: 22896805
Carbon nanotubes; nanotechnology; cultured neuronal network; synapse; short-term plasticity; patch clamp recordings
22.  Vacuum template synthesis of multifunctional nanotubes with tailored nanostructured walls 
Scientific Reports  2016;6:20637.
A three-step vacuum procedure for the fabrication of vertical TiO2 and ZnO nanotubes with three dimensional walls is presented. The method combines physical vapor deposition of small-molecules, plasma enhanced chemical vapor deposition of inorganic functional thin films and layers and a post-annealing process in vacuum in order to remove the organic template. As a result, an ample variety of inorganic nanotubes are made with tunable length, hole dimensions and shapes and tailored wall composition, microstructure, porosity and structure. The fabrication of multishell nanotubes combining different semiconducting oxides and metal nanoparticles is as well explored. This method provides a feasible and reproducible route for the fabrication of high density arrays of vertically alligned nanotubes on processable substrates. The emptying mechanism and microstructure of the nanotubes have been elucidated through SEM, STEM, HAADF-STEM tomography and energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy. In this article, as a proof of concept, it is presented the straightforward integration of ZnO nanotubes as photoanode in a photovoltaic cell and as a photonic oxygen gas sensor.
PMCID: PMC4748298  PMID: 26860367
23.  Enhanced Utilization of Phosphonate and Phosphite by Klebsiella aerogenes 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  1998;64(10):3754-3758.
Klebsiella aerogenes ATCC 9621 was able to utilize phosphonates (Pn), including aminoethylphosphonate, ethylphosphonate, methylphosphonate (MPn), and phosphonoacetate, and inorganic phosphite (Pt) as sole sources of phosphorus (P). The products of the phn gene cluster were absolutely required for Pn breakdown and Pt oxidation to inorganic phosphate (Pi) in this organism. To determine if K. aerogenes ATCC 9621 could be engineered to enhance the utilization of Pn and Pt, a multicopy plasmid, pBI05, which carried the entire phn gene cluster, was introduced into this strain. Despite the increased dosage of the phn genes, K. aerogenes ATCC 9621(pBI05) could utilize only up to 1.1-fold more Pn and Pt than did the control strain with the parent vector alone. These results suggested that Pi, which was generated from Pn and Pt, might limit further utilization of these P compounds. Consequently, to convert the resulting Pi to polyphosphate (polyP), the plasmid pKP28, which carried the K. aerogenes ppk gene (which encodes polyP kinase), was introduced into K. aerogenes ATCC 9621(pBI05). Overexpression of the ppk gene in K. aerogenes ATCC 9621(pBI05, pKP28) resulted in a 2.5-fold increase in Pt utilization over that of the control strain. This recombinant strain also accumulated approximately sixfold more P than did the control strain when the cells were grown with MPn as a sole source of P.
PMCID: PMC106539  PMID: 9758795
24.  Characterization and in vitro studies of the anticancer effect of oxidized carbon nanotubes functionalized with betulinic acid 
Among the array of nanomaterials, carbon nanotubes have shown great potential as drug carriers in the field of nanomedicine, owing to their attractive physicochemical structure, which facilitates functionalization of therapeutic molecules onto their external walls or being encapsulated inside the tubes. The aim of this preliminary study was to formulate betulinic acid (BA), a poorly water-soluble drug, in oxidized multiwalled carbon nanotubes (MWCNT-COOH) for enhanced delivery efficiency into cancer cells with reduced cytotoxicity. The synthesized MWCNT-BA nanocomposite was characterized using ultraviolet-visible, Fourier transform infrared, thermogravimetric analysis, powder X-ray diffraction, and field emission scanning electron microscopy techniques. The loading of BA in MWCNT-COOH nanocarrier was estimated to be about 14.5%–14.8% (w/w), as determined by ultraviolet-visible and thermogravimetric analysis. Fourier transform infrared study shows that the peaks of the resulting MWCNT-BA nanocomposite correlate to the characteristic functional groups of BA and MWCNT-COOH. The powder X-ray diffraction results confirmed that the tubular structures of MWCNT-COOH were not affected by the drug loading mechanism of BA. The release profiles demonstrated that approximately 98% of BA could be released within 22 hours by phosphate-buffered saline solution at pH 7.4 compared with about 22% within 24 hours at pH 4.8. The biocompatibility studies revealed that MWCNT-BA at concentrations <50μg/mL expressed no cytotoxicity effects for mouse embryo fibroblast cells after 72 hours of treatment. The anticancer activity of MWCNT-BA was observed to be more sensitive to human lung cancer cell line when compared with human liver cancer cell line, with half maximal inhibitory concentration values of 2.7 and 11.0μg/mL, respectively. Our findings form a fundamental platform for further investigation of the MWCNT-BA formulation against different types of cancer cells.
PMCID: PMC4242135  PMID: 25429205
multiwalled carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs); drug delivery; controlled release; cytotoxicity; A549 cell line; HepG2 cell line
25.  Fibrillous Carbon Nanotube: An Unexpected Journey 
Critical reviews in oncogenesis  2014;19(0):261-268.
The emergence of nanomedicine, a discipline at the nexus of materials engineering, chemistry, biology, and pharmacology, has generated much excitement in the field of translational medical research and provided some unexpected results. Nanomedicine seeks to introduce nanoscale technology to the practice of medicine via the design and development of nanomaterials possessing therapeutic or diagnostic functions. However, as expected, any modification of the base nanomaterial platform to decorate it with solublizing, targeting, therapeutic, or diagnostic modalities yields a material with a very different pharmacological profile than the original platform. Clearly, the goal of nanotechnology is to put into practice a novel synthetic substance in which the function of the complex is greater than the sum of its components. These new compositions must be thoroughly evaluated in vivo. Therefore, reliance on pharmacokinetic predictions based solely on the baseline profile of the original platform can confuse the field and delay progress. Carbon nanotube pharmacokinetic profiles provide an interesting example of this situation. Covalently functionalized nanotubes exhibit fibrillar pharmacology while those nanotubes that are not covalently functionalized transiently behave as fibers and then tend toward an overall colloidal profile in vivo.
PMCID: PMC4394892  PMID: 25271434
carbon nanotube; fibrillar; pharmacokinetics; pharmacology; nanomaterial

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