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J Nanosci Nanotechnol. 2006 Mar;6(3):591-9.

Toxicity and biocompatibility of carbon nanoparticles.

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Department of Experimental Medicine and Pathology, University La Sapienza-CNR, Rome, Italy.


A review is presented of the literature data concerning the effects induced by carbon nanoparticles on the biological environment and the importance of these effects in human and animal health. The discovery in 1985 of fullerenes, a novel carbon allotrope with a polygonal structure made up solely by 60 carbon atoms, and in 1991 of carbon nanotubes, thin carbon filaments (1-3 microm in length and 1-3 nm in diameter) with extraordinary mechanical properties, opened a wide field of activity in carbon research. During the last few years, practical applications of fullerenes as biological as well as pharmacological agents have been investigated. Various fullerene-based compounds were tested for biological activity, including antiviral, antioxidant, and chemiotactic activities. Nanotubes consist of carbon atoms arranged spirally to form concentric cylinders, that are perfect crystals and thinner than graphite whiskers. They are stronger than steel but very flexible and lightweight and transfer heat better than any other known material. These characteristics make them suitable for various potential applications such as super strong cables and tips for scanning probe microscopes, as well as biomedical devices for drug delivery, medical diagnostic, and therapeutic applications. The effects induced by these nanostructures on rat lung tissues, as well as on human skin and human macrophage and keratinocyte cells are presented.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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