Michael Berger over at the nanoBLOG takes a look at the work of scientists to develop carbon nanohorn (CNH), a member of the fullerene family, into a delivery vehicle for various kinds of therapies.
CNHs were discovered in 1998 by Dr. Sumio Iijima’s research group. These particles have the same graphitic carbon atom structure as normal carbon nanotubes. Unlike carbon nanotubes, carbon nanohorns can be made simply without the use of a catalyst.
Compared with common nanoparticles, CNHs key characteristic is high adsorbability to hold therapeutic drugs, genes or proteins due to their large surface area — about 400 square meters per gram — and large number of cavities. Notably, the modified CNHs can spontaneously dissolve in water.
“We were excited to find that they are nontoxic and could readily enter human cervical cancer cells, which means that they may be used as a new, nontoxic synthetic gene delivery vehicle for gene therapy” says Zhang.