Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New study on carbon nanotubes gives hope for medical applications

Date:
April 5, 2010
Source:
Karolinska Institutet
Summary:
A team of Swedish and American scientists has shown for the first time that carbon nanotubes can be broken down by an enzyme – myeloperoxidase (MPO) – found in white blood cells. Their discoveries contradict what was previously believed, that carbon nanotubes are not broken down in the body or in nature. The scientists hope that this new understanding of how MPO converts carbon nanotubes into water and carbon dioxide can be of significance to medicine.

A team of Swedish and American scientists has shown for the first time that carbon nanotubes can be broken down by an enzyme -- myeloperoxidase (MPO) -- found in white blood cells. Their discoveries are presented in Nature Nanotechnology and contradict what was previously believed, that carbon nanotubes are not broken down in the body or in nature. The scientists hope that this new understanding of how MPO converts carbon nanotubes into water and carbon dioxide can be of significance to medicine.

Related Articles


"Previous studies have shown that carbon nanotubes could be used for introducing drugs or other substances into human cells," says Bengt Fadeel, associate professor at the Swedish medical university Karolinska Institutet. "The problem has been not knowing how to control the breakdown of the nanotubes, which can caused unwanted toxicity and tissue damage. Our study now shows how they can be broken down biologically into harmless components."

Carbon nanotubes are a material consisting of a single layer of carbon atoms rolled into a tube with a diameter of only a couple of nanometres (1 nanometer = 1 billionth of a metre) and a length that can range from tens of nanometres up to several micrometers. Carbon nanotubes are lighter and stronger than steel, and have exceptional heat-conductive and electrical properties. They are manufactured on an industrial scale, mainly for engineering purposes but also for some consumer products.

Carbon nanotubes were once considered biopersistent in that they did not break down in body tissue or in nature. In recent years, research has shown that laboratory animals exposed to carbon nanotubes via inhalation or through injection into the abdominal cavity develop severe inflammation. This and the tissue changes (fibrosis) that exposure causes lead to impaired lung function and perhaps even to cancer. For example, a year or two ago, alarming reports by other scientists suggested that carbon nanotubes are very similar to asbestos fibres, which are themselves biopersistent and which can cause lung cancer (mesothelioma) in humans a considerable time after exposure.

This current study thus represents a breakthrough in nanotechnology and nanotoxicology, since it clearly shows that endogenous MPO can break down carbon nanotubes. This enzyme is expressed in certain types of white blood cell (neutrophils), which use it to neutralise harmful bacteria. Now, however, the researchers have found that the enzyme also works on carbon nanotubes, breaking them down into water and carbon dioxide. The researchers also showed that carbon nanotubes that have been broken down by MPO no longer give rise to inflammation in mice.

"This means that there might be a way to render carbon nanotubes harmless, for example in the event of an accident at a production plant," says Dr Fadeel. "But the findings are also relevant to the future use of carbon nanotubes for medical purposes."

The study was led by researchers at Karolinska Institutet, the University of Pittsburgh and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), and was financed in part through grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Seventh Framework Programme of the European Commission. The work was conducted as part of the NANOMMUNE project, which is coordinated by associate professor Bengt Fadeel of the Institute of Environmental Medicine, Karolinska Institutet, and which comprises a total of thirteen research groups in Europe and the USA.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Karolinska Institutet. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Valerian E. Kagan, Nagarjun V. Konduru, Weihong Feng, Brett L. Allen, Jennifer Conroy, Yuri Volkov, Irina I. Vlasova, Natalia A. Belikova, Naveena Yanamala, Alexander Kapralov, Yulia Y. Tyurina, Jingwen Shi, Elena R. Kisin, Ashley R. Murray, Jonathan Franks, Donna Stolz, Pingping Gou, Judith Klein-Seetharaman, Bengt Fadeel, Alexander Star, Anna A. Shvedova. Carbon nanotubes degraded by neutrophil myeloperoxidase induce less pulmonary inflammation. Nature Nanotechnology, 2010; DOI: 10.1038/NNANO.2010.44

Cite This Page:

Karolinska Institutet. "New study on carbon nanotubes gives hope for medical applications." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 April 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/04/100405092028.htm>.
Karolinska Institutet. (2010, April 5). New study on carbon nanotubes gives hope for medical applications. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 29, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/04/100405092028.htm
Karolinska Institutet. "New study on carbon nanotubes gives hope for medical applications." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/04/100405092028.htm (accessed January 29, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Matter & Energy News

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Tesla 'Insane Mode' Gives Unsuspecting Passengers the Ride of Their Life

Tesla 'Insane Mode' Gives Unsuspecting Passengers the Ride of Their Life

RightThisMinute (Jan. 29, 2015) — If your car has an "Insane Mode" then you know it&apos;s fast. Well, these unsuspecting passengers were in for one insane ride when they hit the button. Tesla cars are awesome. Video provided by RightThisMinute
Powered by NewsLook.com
Now Bill Gates Is 'Concerned' About Artificial Intelligence

Now Bill Gates Is 'Concerned' About Artificial Intelligence

Newsy (Jan. 29, 2015) — Bill Gates joins the list of tech moguls scared of super-intelligent machines. He says more people should be concerned, but why? Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Two Stunt Pilots Perform Incredibly Close Flyby

Two Stunt Pilots Perform Incredibly Close Flyby

Rumble (Jan. 29, 2015) — Two pilots from &apos;Escuadrilla Argentina de Acrobacia Aιrea&apos; perform an incredibly low altitude flyby stunt during a recent show exhibition in Argentina. Check it out! Video provided by Rumble
Powered by NewsLook.com
'Brand Blocker' Glasses Blur Ads in Real Time

'Brand Blocker' Glasses Blur Ads in Real Time

Buzz60 (Jan. 28, 2015) — A team of college students design and build a pair of goggles that will obscure any corporate branding from your field of vision. Jen Markham (@jenmarkham) has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins