Design, fabrication and characterization of drug-delivery systems and biomolecular devices:

  • lipid-based systems: liposomes, biphasic vesicles, lipid-surfactant nanoparticles
  • gemini surfactant - based nanoparticles and micelles
  • carbon nanomaterials/fullerenes (carbon nanotubes, graphene, buckyballs)
  • peptides and acylated-peptides

Within this area, one particular interest in our lab is research on the feasibility and use of carbon nanotubes (CNTs) as potential pharmaceutical exicipients and building blocks of nanomedicines.

CNTs belong to the fullerene family of carbon allotropes. They consist of hollow cylindrical molecules formed by “rolling” single or multiple layers of graphene sheets into seamless cylinders. These cylindrical tubes of carbon have two forms — single-walled CNTs and multi-walled CNTs.

Picture of SWNT and MWNT.

Interest is growing in the use of CNTs as drug excipients because of their capacity to interact with macromolecules such as proteins and DNA for delivery of therapeutic proteins, peptides and genes into cells. Three methods of interaction of therapeutics with CNTs are possible:

  1. CNTs acting as porous absorbents to entrap active components within a CNT mesh or bundle
  2. CNTs providing a site for functional attachment of therapeutics
  3. CNTs acting as nanocatheters for controlled and targeted delivery of therapeutics

CNT interactions.

Although much research has been conducted on the chemical and physical properties and potential applications of CNTs, exploration of CNTs as innovative pharmaceutical excipients has just begun. The many interesting and promising pharmaceutical applications for CNTs range from carrier-mediated delivery vehicles for therapeutic agents, to targets for biophysical treatments, to templates for tissue regeneration, to devices for the controlled release of therapeutic agents.

Schematic and EM images of multi walled caron nanotubes.

Atomic force microscopy images of the compaction of plasmid DNA into nanoparticles containing gemini surfactant.