Cells recognize each other using glycoproteins, such as mucin, embedded in their membranes which bind with receptors (i.e., leptin) on other cells. Mimicking these signaling molecules, researchers led by Xing Chen at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have recently developed a surface coating for carbon nanotubes (CNTs) that show inert effects when they encounter living cells. The researchers invented a method by which a glycosylated polymer (N-acetylglucosamine polymer bound to a poly(MVK) backbone) binds to an 18-carbon lipid so that it associates on the exterior of carbon nanotubes. This mimics the mucin proteins embedded in cell membranes and makes the carbon nanotube capable of binding to specific cells through receptor-ligand interactions. This technology has the potential to be used in new types of drug delivery vectors, biological research tools, and biosensors.
This technology can produce CNTs for biologically relevant use (drug delivery, research, etc.), that are non-cytotoxic and capable of targeted interaction with specific biological structures.This technology mimics the surface glycoproteins of cells to produce highly biocompatible nanostructures. Since pharmaceutically active compounds can be embedded in or on CNTs, this process may be used to produce new drug delivery vectors that only affect selected cells. A whole new generation of treatments for cancer and other diseases could result.Source: Biomimetic Engineering of Carbon Nanotubes by Using Cell Surface Mucin Mimics
Carbon nanotubes disrupt membranes and are toxic to living cells. Moreover, they interact with cells in an entirely non-specific manner and cannot be targeted toward any one tissue, cell, or organelle-type.Edit Summary