4 Best Applications of Fullerenes in The Biomedical Industry

4 Best Applications of Fullerenes in The Biomedical Industry

Fullerene is a very common compound known as an allotrope of carbon that consists of carbon atoms that are attached through either single or double bonds. These molecules are rich in their characteristics and have potentially strong properties which enable them to work effectively. 4 best applications of fullerenes in the biomedical industry are explained in this article.

There are so many reasons which enhance the production and credibility of fullerenes. A maximum number of applications are said to be discovered in the field of medicine and are proving as an outclass representation of this molecule.


Fullerene is a carbon allotrope consisting of carbon atoms that are either joined together by single or double bonds. This enables the formation of a partially closed or closed mesh in which five to seven atoms are fused. This molecule can be presented in various shapes and sizes namely a hollow sphere, an ellipsoid, or a tube shape. Graphene is the greatest example of this and can be found as a member of this family as it is a flat mesh that consists of regular hexagonal rings.

Closed mesh topology

Fullerenes are capable of exhibiting a closed mesh topology and are depicted by an empirical formula which is Cn in which n is known to be the number of carbon atoms that are present. Although, it is possible to have more than one isomers as the values can vary in different ways.

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The naming system for each compound and its family is different and so is the case with fullerene as well. The family of fullerene is named after a compound known as buckminsterfullerene (C60) which is the most popular member of this family. This one is named after Buckminster Fuller. These are the closed fullerenes and can also be called buckyballs as they have a lot of similarities with the game of soccer. Likewise, the nested closed fullerenes are known as bucky onions whereas the cylindrical fullerenes are known as nanotubes or buckytubes. There is a term called fullerite which is the solid mixture of either pure or mixed fullerenes.


Fullerenes were initially just predicted and no discovery of them was yet made until 1985 when they were found out in nature as well as outer space. This discovery ledto the identification of an allotrope of carbon and in return added up to the already discovered allotropes of carbon. Some of the previously identified allotropes of carbon include graphite, diamond, and amorphous carbon in the form of soot and charcoal. A lot of researches have been carried out related to them to read their chemistry and have a grip on their technological applications mainly in the fields of electronics and nanotechnology.

Source of attraction

Ever since the fullerenes have been discovered in 1985, they have gained a lot of attention and attraction in various fields and specifically in the science field. Various properties of fullerenes in physical, chemical, and biological aspects have also been identified. Specifically, in the medical field, they are known to have a definite size, hydrophobic properties, and possible electronic configurations. They consist of mainly a carbon cage structure and due to the potentially strong properties, it enables them to be a therapeutic agent. Various studies have been led in the biological applications, all of which have made it evident that fullerenes are an excellent compound being utilized in the field of medicine.

Characteristics of Fullerenes

There are various characteristics of fullerene which are the basis of this compound and are the key functionalizing aspect that enhances the growth and production of fullerenes. The entire family of fullerene and most specifically C60 has a very appealing nature and is thus referred to as the best compounds to exhibit their physical and electrochemical properties. As discussed earlier, fullerene has a hydrophobic nature and this enables it to fit itself in HIV protease to stop the movement of substrates towards the site of the enzyme. There are several ways in which fullerene can be characterized mainly in the form of exposure to light and it also works as a carrier for the entire drug delivery systems and gene.


Fullerene has a lot of properties all of which when combined can form a compound that is highly effective in maintaining the quality of it and then add up to its market value as well. A few of the most important properties of fullerene are known to be the building blocks of this product.


Topology is a mathematical study of certain products whose properties are dependent upon the structural variations that come along within a product. The prominent term is Schlegel diagrams which help in the identification of 3D structures of fullerenes having closed shells because the 2D technology is not much applicable to it. This diagram helps in the identification of convex polyhedrons. This is a basic approach of fullerene to study the properties and characteristics so that a better approach can be adopted for the proper working and functioning of fullerenes.

Closed Fullerene

The most common type of fullerene is a closed fullerene which consists of a sphere-like shell having cycles of both, either pentagons or heptagons. When the shell's faces have 5 to 6 sides then a formula is followed by them which is known as Euler's polyhedron formula. The formula is stated as V-E+F=2. Here V represents vertices, E represents edges and F represents faces. Everything is followed in the same pattern even when a fullerene exists with a heptagonal shape. Different types of fullerenes can have different kinds of shapes, depending upon the boding that they possess. Similarly, their functionalization varies from one another as each product contains its specifications and then works accordingly.


Every carbon atom consists of either a single or a double covalent bond due to the connectivity level that it shares with the neighboring atoms. There is always a mixture of these bonds present. However, a technique known as Raman spectroscopy is the most common one through which the bonding state can be identified and then worked upon. Others include IR spectroscopy and X-ray spectroscopy.


Buckminsterfullerene is not capable of possessing the feature of super-aromaticity which means the localization of hexagonal rings over the molecules does not take place. Several types of research have also been conducted in this regard to enhance the reactivity of fullerenes.

Spherical fullerene

Spherical fullerene is another different shaped type of fullerene in which n acts as the number of carbon atoms that are free to perform any delocalization. They are allowed to try delocalizing over the entire molecule. A certain series of the number of carbon atoms is provided for this arrangement where the stable shell must be equivalent to n = 2, 8, 18, 32, 50, 72, 98, 128, etc. The formula of 2(N + 1)2 is applied to this rule which is known as Huckel's rule. Quantum chemical modeling is the case that is used here for showing the types of spherical currents being found in the cations. These are rather very strong and diamagnetic.


C60 becomes able to attract two electrons and then becomes an anion. This maybe be caused while a loose metallic bond is being formed either partially or completely.

Possible Fullerenes Market Growth

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Functionalized Fullerenes as Drug-delivery Nanoparticles

PEBs which are known as paclitaxel embedded buckysomes are a type of amphiphilic fullerene while consisting of nanostructures that are approximately 100 to 200 nm. They have hydrophobic pockets inside them which contain the anti-cancer drug paclitaxel. The US FDA has also approved of them as these are the drugs that protect a human body from some life-threatening conditions, for example, breast cancer. This water-soluble fullerene and its derivatives protect the person from any side effects and discomforts that come along.

Advantageous Approach

This is a thoroughly advantageous approach because it helps a person in fighting the disease and certainly improves the circulation of blood, as well as the anti-cancer drugs, cause various kinds of side effects one of which is poor blood circulation. However, the size of these PEBs is very small equivalent to 200 nm so that RES uptake can be avoided at all costs.

Production of the Lipophilic Slow-release System

As discussed earlier that fullerene is capable of producing an ideal lipophilic system so it helps in creating several drugs which can be used as a single dose naming them as the drug cocktails. This was discovered by Zakharian and colleagues. This is the most common practice for the therapy of lung cancer. The conjugates that are discovered shall have a size range of 120 to 145 nm and it should be considered important that the size is not varying with concentration. However, this conjugate comes with a half-life of release of 80 minutes in the case of bovine plasma.

Transfection Vectors

Other than giving out drug molecules, fullerenes also work as the transfection vectors for the deliverance of exogenous DNA so that they can be worked up to check for mediate gene transfer. This is a highly beneficial technique in the process of gene therapy. Though the cytotoxicity levels are high in the first generation fullerene transfection their promising nature in the case of transfection subsides it. However, Sitharaman and colleagues were able to discover a new class of fullerene and its derivatives which are helpful in the transportation of DNA across the cell and gene expression as well.

Transfection Efficiency

However, transfection efficiency is brought along only with the help of fullerene and its derivatives. It is capable of possessing the properties and characteristics which are essential in carrying out this process. A lot of other researches as well were carried out in this regard all proved that gadofullerne has an approach in the field of diagnosis and therapy.

Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) Quenching by Functionalized Fullerenes

Krusic and colleagues are known to figure out all the potentials of fullerene for scavenging reactive oxygen species. This has initiated and increased the interest of marketers to start using fullerene as an antioxidant. It is important to watch out for all the important steps that are necessary for carrying out this process. Other than that carboxy fullerenes are also used as neuroprotective agents.

Antioxidant Compounds

It was suggested in early phases that C60 and its derivatives are capable of having antioxidant compounds which are highly beneficial in the biological systems. Carboxyfullerne is the most important one among all as it occupies excellent antioxidant compounds. The most prominent function of this is that it protects from neuronal apoptosis which consists of two types as well. It works as a mediator which inhibits the necrotic and apoptotic neuronal deaths as a result of which protection to the human body can be provided at a larger level. Their use in drugs is also proving to be highly beneficial as neuroprotective drugs are based on this mechanism.

Influence of Size

Along with that, the size of fullerene is also very important as it influences the processes that are going on. An experiment was led out which depicted that fullerenes are capable of reducing cytotoxicity, damage to the mitochondria, and formation of free radicals as human lung carcinoma cell line and capillary endothelial cell line of a rat's brain was used in this experiment. As a result, it was predicted that in comparison to the other two derivatives of fullerene, the gadofullerene and its derivatives help protect from any injury to the mitochondria. It was then concluded that fullerene and its derivatives are capable of scavenging all the related ROS.

Iron-induced Lipid Peroxidation

Another study was presented by Lin and colleagues that carboxy fullerenes consist of anti-oxidative properties so these are also capable of repressing iron-induced lipid peroxidation. As discussed earlier that carboxy fullerenes provide neuroprotection so in this case as well they help in the degeneration of the nigrostriatal dopaminergic system. A lot of other researches were also carried out which confirmed the antioxidative properties of fullerene and the potential that I hold as a free radical scavenger.

Process of Apoptosis

Fullerenes are highly beneficial for the inhibition of apoptosis which was discovered by Monti and colleagues as carboxy fullerenes is a type of fullerene which helps protect blood cells from going through apoptosis along with the involvement of mitochondrial membrane. This is known to be carried at the earliest stage of apoptosis. This entire activity is performed by buckminsterfullerenes for the protection of the immune system and the mitochondria involved.

Fullerenes as Photosensitizers

Fullerene has excellent biomedical applications in the case of photosensitizers as it brings out the photoexcitation state of fullerenes. Fullerene tends to transform into a photoexcitation state even from the ground state through the process of photo-irradiation. This process enables the life expectancy of C60 as a result of which it can be incorporated in photosensitizers for better functionalization. In this process, O2 is converted into singlet oxygen which is considered a highly cytotoxic species. As a result, fullerene in its excited state can work best as it becomes reduced due to the presence of biological reducing agents example of which is guanosin. Fullerenes play a vital role in the conversion reactions, enabling the transfer of electrons to go correctly and effectively as a result of which fullerenes' potency increases.

Use of polyethylene glycol

PEG known as polyethylene glycol is a conjugated type of fullerene which was initially procured by Gd+3 ions for a process called photodynamic therapy while combining with the magnetic resonance imaging commonly known as MRI. Researchers have collected a lot of data in the same regard because this type of fullerene is capable of making these processes a smooth task and provides a great deal of help. An experiment on mice regarding the same was conducted as well which concluded that indeed C60-PEG plays as a derivative that possesses diagnostic and therapeutic, functions.

Fullerenes for Medical Therapeutics and Diagnostics

Being the best compound to be used in the medical field, it sure brings a lot of benefits to medical therapeutics and diagnostics. Fullerenes have been found out to be great antioxidants along with being radical scavengers. They possess extremely good anti-inflammatory properties which enables them to protect the body from any toxins from various diseases. A few of these diseases include:

1) Fullerenes for Allergies

Mast cells are the ones that can be identified in body tissues of a human body and these are the ones that initiate allergic responses in a human body. The allergies are triggered when one comes in contact with any sort of allergens and in that case the cells reveal mediators which are responsible for these triggers. Fullerenes and their derivatives then come around to have control over these allergens to protect the human body from allergic reactions. They are capable of protecting the human body before, during, and after any allergy gets triggered. These help the ongoing reactions to stop before their devastating outspread.

2) Fullerenes for Asthma

Asthma is one of the most common diseases nowadays and the greatest percentage of it lies on mast cells. The main trigger of asthma is different types of allergens and allergy-causing organisms. Fullerenes are being used and studied to identify ways in which they can be found helpful to protect from allergic reactions being generated in the human lungs.

3) Fullerenes for Arthritis

The building blocks of arthritis are mast cells and in that case, fullerenes are being discovered and utilized to present how the growth of mast cells can be inhibited for the prevention of arthritis.

4) Medical Diagnostics

Another one of the major applications of fullerene is the field of medical diagnostics. A lot of procedures go by every day to diagnose diseases that are either known to man or not known. To keep this method free from any toxicity, advancements and adaptations are being applied at every level. For example, in the case of treating kidney diseases, steps are taken in which Gd is to be transformed into chelate so that it can stay in the body for a small period, and then it can eliminate from the body via renal elimination. This can end up releasing toxicity in the body in the form of toxic substances because Gd and chelate start separating at one point. All of this can be prevented by an agent-based upon Trimetashere which prevents the toxic substances from separating no matter for how long they are in the solution.


MRIs are physiological tests performed on people who are suspected of any disease or are supposed to go through some procedure. Though there is still a need to bring improvement in the performance of MRI. This can be done through making an increase in the relaxivity by the use of Trimetaspheres as this enhances the performance ability of MRI. This is indeed a very effective way to bring change and advancement in this said field.

Coronary Artery Disease

Coronary artery disease is one such disease that has been thoroughly studied due to Trimetasphere derivatives. This compound has a high potential to be dealt with potentially strong and stable components which are capable of dealing with the plaque that builds up in the blood vessels of humans due to this disease. This entire process helps eradicate the risk and severity of heart attack as it provides awareness and information regarding the disease itself and the precautionary measures that can be dealt with through knowledge. The involvement of fullerene enables all these processes to go by smoothly and swiftly.


Fullerene is an allotrope of carbon is known as one of the best compounds that are being used in various industries but specifically in the biomedical industry. There are several industries in which the applications of fullerenes can be expressed but the main and most important ones can be found in the biomedical industry. Fullerene is working as an excellent compound for enhancing the credibility of the biomedical industry.

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23rd Feb 2022 Natalia Arboleda Hernández

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