Carbon Nanotubes in Medicine
Medical applications for carbon nanotubes in range from
sensors for early detection of imflammatory disease to building lenses
that can concentrate sound waves enough to blast diseased tissue from
outside the patients body.
A Survey of Medical Applications for Carbon Nanotubes
Researchers at the University of Connecticut have developed a
sensor that uses nanotubes and gold nanoparticles to
proteins that indicate the presence of oral cancer. Tests have shown this sensor to
be accurate and it provides results in less than
Medical implants made of porous plastic, coated with carbon nanotubes
are being used for drug delivery.
Therapeutic drugs, which are attached to the nanotubes can be released into the
bloodstream, for example, when a change in the blood chemistry signals a
problem. NASA is developing such an implant, called a "biocapsule",
to protect astronauts from the effects of radiation. The implants may also be
useful for releasing insulin in diabetic patients and for delivering
chemotherapy drugs directly to tumors.
Researchers have demonstrated a method to generate sound waves that are
powerful, but also tightly focused, that may eventually be used for
noninvasive surgery. They use a
lens coated with
carbon nanotubes to convert light from a laser to focused sound
waves. The intent is to develop a method that could blast tumors or other diseased areas without damaging healthy
Researchers are using carbon nanotubes to change adult stem cells
into a type of
cell that may help heal damaged heart tissue.
Reseachers at MIT have developed a sensor using carbon nanotubes
embedded in a gel; that can be injected under the skin to
monitor the level of
nitric oxide in the bloodstream. The level of nitric oxide is
important because it indicates inflamation, allowing easy monitoring of
imflammatory diseases. In tests with laboratory mice the sensor remained
functional for over a year.
Carbon nanotubes and gold nanoparticles are being used in a sensor that
indicative of oral cancer. Tests have shown this sensor to be accurate in
detecting oral cancer and provides results in less than an hour.
Targeted heat therapy
is being developed to destroy breast cancer tumors. In this method
antibodies that are strongly attracted to proteins produced in one type
of breast cancer cell are attached to nanotubes, causing the nanotubes
to accumulate at the tumor. Infrared light from a laser is absorbed by
the nanotubes and produces heat that incinerates the tumor.
healing process for broken bones by providing a
carbon nanotube scaffold that new bone material can grow around.
Using nanotubes as a
cellular scale needle to deliver quantum dots and proteins into cancer
Earl Boysen of Hawk's Perch Technical Writing, LLC and
UnderstandingNano.com. You can find him on