Kyoto University researchers have discovered that carbon nanotubes (CNTs) combined with a near-infrared (NIR) light irradiation technique generate reactive oxygen species (ROS) and kill cancer cells. CNTs have unique properties that can be exploited for diagnostics, thermal ablation and drug delivery.
Working with an NIR laser, the research group led by Tatsuya Murakami, an Assistant Professor at Kyoto University’s Institute for Intgrated Cell-Material Sciences, discovered that, among CNTs, only semiconducting (s-SWNTs) and metallic single-walled carbon nanotubes (m-SWNTs) could absorb NIR laser light and generate ROS.
The team extracted and enriched the s-SWNTs and m-SWNTs, and mixed the ROS generated from them with human lung cancer cells. After irradiating them with NIR light for about 10 minutes, the team confirmed that 45% of the cancer cells had been destroyed. A therapy based on this approach—injecting a small quantity of SWNTs into the veins and irradiating affected areas with NIR—may be possible in the near future.
“Photodynamic and Photothermal Effects of Semiconducting and Metallic-Enriched Single-Walled Carbon Nanotubes” is published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.