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Posted: Jan 08, 2013
New horizons for diagnostics and therapeutic applications of graphene
(Nanowerk News) Graphene and its oxide have exhibited excellent performance in disease-related diagnosis and therapy. However, the development of graphene-based biomaterials/devices and their applications are still in its infancy.
A new review published in Advanced Materials ("New Horizons for Diagnostics and Therapeutic Applications of Graphene and Graphene Oxide") focuses on the latest developments of applications in this emerging disease-related field, including the rising research about photothermal therapy for Alzheimer's disease and cancer, human telomerase and other cancer biomarker/cancer cells diagnosis, drug/nucleotide/peptide delivery and cell imaging, and proliferation and differentiation of stem cell on graphene platforms. This review provides a comprehensive introduction to the applications of graphene and its oxide in this field and inspire broader interests across various disciplines.
Graphene is a two-dimensional crystal of sp2-hybridized carbon atom arranged in six-membered rings. As a rapidly rising star, graphene has quickly sparked tremendous interest on the horizons of materials science and bioapplications because of the extraordinary physicochemical and structural properties, namely ballistic conductivity, high elasticity and mechanical strength, large surface area, and rapid heterogeneous electron transfer.
Significant progress has been achieved in many fields, such as nanoelectronic devices, transparent conductors, and nanocomposite materials.
In the area of biomedicine, graphene and its derivatives have been highly anticipated to provide unique and new opportunities for the developments of novel biosensors, nanocarriers for drug and gene delivery, cell imaging and photo-therapy of cancer. For instance, when used as drug carriers, nanographene oxide (NGO) has shown efficient loading capacity as high as 2.57 mg mL-1 for gentamicin sulfate, a bactericidal aminoglycoside antibiotic. It has also demonstrated superior photothermal sensitivity to carbon nanotubes under the same conditions.
Although pristine graphene and as-made graphene oxide exhibited certain toxicity to cells and animals, functionalized NGO coated with biocompatible polymers, such as polyethylene glycol or dextran, appeared to be no detectable toxicity as shown in both cellular and animal tests. The biological applications of these materials are currently under intense investigation.
Despite there are still many unresolved issues and challenges, the unique physical and chemical properties of graphene, and the promising results exhibit that there is still much room for future scientific research and application development of graphene and its oxide in theoretic and simulation studies, tailor-designed smart devices and advanced platform for targeted drug delivery, disease diagnosis and therapy.