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Nat Nanotechnol. 2008 Apr;3(4):216-21. doi: 10.1038/nnano.2008.68. Epub 2008 Mar 30.

A pilot toxicology study of single-walled carbon nanotubes in a small sample of mice.

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Molecular Imaging Program at Stanford (MIPS), Department of Radiology and Bio-X Program, Palo Alto, California 94305-5427, USA.


Single-walled carbon nanotubes are currently under evaluation in biomedical applications, including in vivo delivery of drugs, proteins, peptides and nucleic acids (for gene transfer or gene silencing), in vivo tumour imaging and tumour targeting of single-walled carbon nanotubes as an anti-neoplastic treatment. However, concerns about the potential toxicity of single-walled carbon nanotubes have been raised. Here we examine the acute and chronic toxicity of functionalized single-walled carbon nanotubes when injected into the bloodstream of mice. Survival, clinical and laboratory parameters reveal no evidence of toxicity over 4 months. Upon killing, careful necropsy and tissue histology show age-related changes only. Histology and Raman microscopic mapping demonstrate that functionalized single-walled carbon nanotubes persisted within liver and spleen macrophages for 4 months without apparent toxicity. Although this is a preliminary study with a small group of animals, our results encourage further confirmation studies with larger groups of animals.

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