Carbon nanotubes: Smart drug/gene delivery carriers

Hossein Zare, Sepideh Ahmadi, Amir Ghasemi, Mohammad Ghanbari, Navid Rabiee, Mojtaba Bagherzadeh, Mahdi Karimi, Thomas J. Webster, Michael R. Hamblin, Ebrahim Mostafavi

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The unique properties of carbon nanotubes (CNTs) (such as their high surface to volume ratios, enhanced conductivity and strength, biocompatibility, ease of functionaliza-tion, optical properties, etc.) have led to their consideration to serve as novel drug and gene delivery carriers. CNTs are effectively taken up by many different cell types through several mechanisms. CNTs have acted as carriers of anticancer molecules (including docetaxel (DTX), doxorubicin (DOX), methotrexate (MTX), paclitaxel (PTX), and gemcitabine (GEM)), anti-inflammatory drugs, osteogenic dexamethasone (DEX) steroids, etc. In addi-tion, the unique optical properties of CNTs have led to their use in a number of platforms for improved photo-therapy. Further, the easy surface functionalization of CNTs has prompted their use to deliver different genes, such as plasmid DNA (PDNA), micro-RNA (miRNA), and small interfering RNA (siRNA) as gene delivery vectors for various diseases such as cancers. However, despite all of these promises, the most important continuous concerns raised by scientists reside in CNT nanotoxicology and the environmental effects of CNTs, mostly because of their non-biodegradable state. Despite a lack of widespread FDA approval, CNTs have been studied for decades and plenty of in vivo and in vitro reports have been published, which are reviewed here. Lastly, this review covers the future research necessary for the field of CNT medicine to grow even further.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1681-1706
Number of pages26
JournalInternational journal of nanomedicine
StatePublished - 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Carbon nanotube
  • Drug delivery
  • Gene delivery
  • Precision medicine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Bioengineering
  • Biomaterials
  • Pharmaceutical Science
  • Drug Discovery
  • Organic Chemistry


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