Researchers at Stanford University have added one more trick to carbon nanotubes’ repertoire of accomplishments: a way to fight the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Chemistry professor Hongjie Dai and his colleagues have used carbon nanotubes to transport RNA into human white blood cells that defend the body from disease, making the cells less susceptible to HIV attack.
In a paper now online in the journal Angewandte Chemie, Dai and his colleagues describe attaching RNA to carbon nanotubes, which enter T cells and deliver the RNA. When the researchers placed T cells in a solution of the carbon nanotube-RNA complex, receptor proteins on the cell surfaces went down by 80 percent. Carbon nanotubes are known to enter many different types of human cells, although researchers don’t understand exactly how they do it. Some experts suspect that because of their long, thin shape, nanotubes enter cells much as a needle passes through skin.
Read rest of the story on Technology Review site
4 thoughts on “Carbon Nanotubes versus HIV”
If it turns out this works on a larger scale and there are not longer term problems from the nanotubes, I can think of innumerable uses for this technique.
(goes to look up research on the nature of the nanotube-membrane interaction)
These should be acid-oxidized nanotubes, not regular single walled nanotubes. Unfortunately, though there are no adverse effects known yet, the nanotubes seem to just accumulate in the cell. The proteins to be transported have needed to be
from the article: “it’s still a long way from any kind of medical applications.”
I wonder how long is a “long way”. and I wonder if anyone will be able to use the process realistically, assuming it’s not infringing on some patent to some gene held by some corporation.
I must digress; gene therapy is absolutely miraculous in its possibilities and application. Like the Italians that reconstituted the immune systems for six ADA-SCID patients. We can only imagine what the future holds….
This is Bhauth’s comment, which was truncated above:
These should be acid-oxidized nanotubes, not regular single walled
nanotubes. Unfortunately, though there are no adverse effects known
yet, the nanotubes seem to just accumulate in the cell. The proteins
to be transported have roughly needed to be less than 80 kDa though that may be
more a limit on molecule diameter, which would make RNA a good
candidate for delivery this way. Human immunoglobin, for example,
hasn’t worked. However, different nanotube geometries may change that.
The transport mechanism seems to be clathrin-dependent endocytosis for
nanotubes with negatively charged molecules bound and something else
for ones with positive molecules. Nanotubes with negatively charged
molecules bound seem to be distributed throughout the cell while
nanotubes with positively charged molecules bound seem to accumulate
largely in the nucleus.