Carbon Nanotubes and Drug Delivery


The development of nanoparticles as drug carriers is being increased in the past decades as the efficient transport system for drug molecules which offer a variety of biotechnology applications. Among the various nanoparticles, carbon nanotubes (CNTs) have emerged as most promising nanomaterials for biomedical applications and drug delivery due to their small size with large surface area, polyaromatic structure, the possibility of functionalisations and chemical stability which make them able to interact with various small molecules including drugs. The present review highlights different aspects of CNTs including functionalisation, cellular uptake and drug loading capacity along with their applications as potential cargo of therapeutic molecule in drug delivery.

Key Concepts

  • Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) are the most promising nanomaterials for biomedical applications.
  • Scientific community is focusing on the development of targeted drug delivery systems.
  • Single‐walled carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs) have well‐defined dimensions as compared to multiwalled carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs) and considered to be more stable nanostructure.
  • The length of the CNTs varies from micrometre to nanometres, which can be further shortened by any physical or chemical method.
  • The functionalised CNTs along with its void structure can provide more opportunities with improved and promising pharmacological applications.
  • The solubility and dispensability of CNTs can be improved or modulated by functionalisation approach, which provides longer stabilisation.
  • The functionalised CNTs have great permeability and it can easily cross the cell membranes.
  • Safety is the basic requirement of any material that is being used as a medicine.

Keywords: carbon nanotubes; cytotoxicity; functionalisation; targeted drug delivery; biomedical applications

Figure 1. Classification and physiochemical properties of CNTs.
Figure 2. Mechanisms for internalisation of CNTs.
Figure 3. Types of functionalisation in CNTs.
Figure 4. Applications of CNTs.


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Maheshwari, Nupur, Maheshwari, Neelesh, Dhote, Vinod, and Mishra, Dinesh K(May 2020) Carbon Nanotubes and Drug Delivery. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. [doi: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0028890]