DNA and carbon nanotubes as medicine

William Cheung, Francesco Pontoriero, Oleh Taratula, Alex M. Chen, Huixin He

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

176 Scopus citations


The identification of disease-related genes and their complete nucleotide sequence through the human genome project provides us with a remarkable opportunity to combat a large number of diseases with designed genes as medicine. However, gene therapy relies on the efficient and nontoxic transport of therapeutic genetic medicine through the cell membranes, and this process is very inefficient. Carbon nanotubes, due to their large surface areas, unique surface properties, and needle-like shape, can deliver a large amount of therapeutic agents, including DNA and siRNAs, to the target disease sites. In addition, due to their unparalleled optical and electrical properties, carbon nanotubes can deliver DNA/siRNA not only into cells, which include difficult transfecting primary-immune cells and bacteria, they can also lead to controlled release of DNA/siRNA for targeted gene therapy. Furthermore, due to their wire shaped structure with a diameter matching with that of DNA/siRNA and their remarkable flexibility, carbon nanotubes can impact on the conformational structure and the transient conformational change of DNA/RNA, which can further enhance the therapeutic effects of DNA/siRNA. Synergistic combination of the multiple capabilities of carbon nanotubes to deliver DNA/siRNAs will lead to the development of powerful multifunctional nanomedicine to treat cancer or other difficult diseases. In this review, we summarized the current studies in using CNT as unique vehicles in the field of gene therapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)633-649
Number of pages17
JournalAdvanced Drug Delivery Reviews
Issue number6
StatePublished - Apr 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pharmaceutical Science


  • Carbon nanotubes
  • DNA
  • Gene therapy
  • Multifunctional
  • Multiwalled carbon nanotubes (MWNTs)
  • Near infrared fluorescence (NIR)
  • Nonviral delivery
  • Raman
  • Single walled carbon nanotubes (SWNTs)
  • Small interference RNA (siRNA)


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