Fullerenes (a form of carbon nanomaterial) is an important element and can be utilized for medical and healthcare purposes. The unique properties and structure of the carbon-based compounds have piqued the curiosity of many, due to which it is currently undergoing a thorough investigation in order to be used for the treatment of various medical conditions such as Diagnostics, Therapeutics, Toxicity Considerations, as Antioxidants, as Antiviral Agents, in Drug and Gene Delivery, and in Photodynamic Therapy. Also, for Allergies, Asthma, Arthritis.
Ever since this molecule was discovered, multiple studies and research are being carried out on in order to figure out its biomedical applications. Being insoluble in watery mediums and having the ability to form aggregates was probably the toughest challenge the scientists had to go through while investigating the molecule. To solve this problem, multiple techniques were taken into account e.g. using Hydrophilic molecules to encapsulate Fullerenes, carrying out the process of coagulation in it by using different types of Hydrophilic molecules, and making use of various solvents to suspend the molecule.
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Below, we have divided the use of Fullerene in different medical cases:
1. Fullerenes and Trimetaspheres
Representing the third form of carbon after the first two which are; diamond and graphite, Fullerenes is a newly discovered nanomaterial which takes up the form of a soccer ball, i.e. a sphere. A common example of Fullerenes that many people might have heard about before is "Bucky Ball", it is a crystalline 3D spherical structure which contains about 60 carbon atoms, linked together by single and double bonds. About 60 or 70 carbon molecules are oriented in a hollow cage-like structure. One of the important properties that we might note is that they are not soluble in water, in order to make them soluble, they'd first have to be derivatized with Hydrophilic compounds. Overall, this carbon class has quite a lot of properties that can both be studied solely or by the introduction of more atoms inside the cage-like structure, or even altering by adding surface chemistry.
The discovery of this new type of molecules can lead to so many new possibilities. They might even have the capability to be used for making new drugs or altering and improving older ones. One application of the compound can be their use in locating specific cells and areas in the body after an Intravenous or Subcutaneous injection. Similarly, image quality can be improved by Trimetasphere thanks to the metallic ions in it. Also, one does not need to worry about any toxic matter entering into their body when using these compounds because the metallic ions are secure inside the hollow cage-like structure of the carbon molecule, which prevents them from breaking free. The field of medical sciences is benefiting a lot from Fullerenes due to the huge amount of capabilities its derivatives hold. It is bound to do wonders for nanomedicine in the near future by becoming an important component of to be produced, wonder drugs.
2. Fullerenes for Medical Diagnostics
Various methods are employed to ensure that toxic substances do not enter one's body. For that purpose, the Gd is formulated in chelate, which is created as to remain in the body for small intervals of time and then be removed through a renal elimination. But a dangerous situation might occur if the solution stays in the body for too long, e.g. when treating kidney diseases. Over extended periods of time, the chelate and Gd are bound to separate, thus releasing the toxic substances in the body. We can prevent this from happening by the use of our discovery, Trimetasphere, to produce a Trimetasphere based agent, which due to its structure, does not let the toxic substances separate from the solution, even over a long period of time in the body.
MRI can surely be improved to a great extent. Many new diseases can be detected easily upon increasing the relaxivity through Trimetaspheres, which would then improve the MRI's sensitivity. This serves as a gateway to the discovery and treatment of many new diseases, a turning point in the history of medicine for sure. Compact and portable versions of the otherwise large MRI systems can also be created in the near future, using Trimetasphere based contrast agents.
Coronary Artery Disease is one of the diseases that could be studied easily in more detail thanks to Trimetasphere derivatives. The compound will be able to detect Atherosclerotic plaque buildup in the blood vessels, thus giving a clear image of the problem and in return, helping solve it. This process could eliminate impending heart attack by making both the doctor and the patients aware of the patient's current health and status by providing enough information and taking calculated measures beforehand. A process known as Cardiac Catheterization Angiography is currently used to detect the problem.
3. Fullerenes for Medical Therapeutics
Fullerenes are amazing antioxidants and radical scavengers; they have anti-inflammatory abilities due to which they can easily neutralize free radicals before the toxins cause any harm inside the body. Some diseases included are;
Fullerenes for Allergies: Mast Cells, found inside body tissue, are the main cause of starting an allergic response as a reaction inside the body. Allergic reactions take place when Mast Cells release mediators when a person comes into contact with something that could trigger their allergy. Fullerene derivatives can be used to control such allergic reactions in the near future, by having a direct effect on the Mast Cells. From smaller allergic reactions like "Hay Fever", to life-threatening situations, Fullerenes derivatives might be able to totally prevent the allergic reaction before it can spread or get exponentially triggered. Most allergy medicines (anti-histamines, H1-receptor blockers) neutralize or prevent the Mast Cells from responding, but Fullerenes can help completely terminating the reaction before it even has the chance to escalate.
Fullerenes for Asthma: This commonly known disease is also triggered by various types of allergens, and this is also dependent on Mast Cells. Fullerenes can be studied more to prevent Mast Cells from activating and causing an allergic reaction inside the lungs, i.e. coughs.
Fullerenes for Arthritis: Mast Cells are also a key attribute in arthritis. Thus, fullerenes are being investigated further, to discover new ways to both hinder Mast Cell related diseases, and figuring out how they could prevent arthritis.
4. Toxicity Considerations for Fullerenes
Studies in the field of nanomedicine are still under the process. Being a relatively new field, especially considering carbon-based nanomaterials, we are not yet aware whether fullerenes are toxic to human bodies or not. FDA approval and more research are still required to judge Fullerenes regarding its toxicity. But studies do show that upon using non aggregated fullerenes for in-vivo and in-vitro assays, the compound is not toxic if normal doses are taken.
5. Fullerenes as Antioxidants
Fullerenes are relatively reactive due to the fact that they possess a high electron affinity and conjugated double bonds, making them amazing antioxidants. Carbon molecules with up to sixty atoms are known as "radical sponges" due to possessing the ability to be highly interactive with various radicals e.g. Carbon sixty can react with about thirty-four methyl radicals until it becomes dormant. One of the most important uses of fullerenes as antioxidants is that they can be put inside the cell.
They can also protect you against ultraviolet radiation, acting as cytoprotectants. This happens when the molecules bind themselves to Reactive Oxygen Species and stop the cells from getting damaged. Cosmetics use a radical sponge as well i.e. a water-soluble Carbon sixty derivative. This molecule is so good at what it does because it quickly absorbs into the skin. Cell cytotoxicity can be prevented by the use of fullerenes as they stop lipid peroxidation by finding peroxy radicals.
6. Fullerenes as Antiviral Agents
Having quite a lot of potential of being used as antivirals, fullerenes have been under everyone's radar. One of the most important applications of fullerenes might be the ability to battle and suppress the property of replication in HIV, a persisting and contagious virus, and therefore help in delaying the occurrence of AIDS. The prevention of replication of HIV 1 takes place when the Dendro Fullerene 1 and Derivative 2 trans-isomer deactivates the HIV protease. Carbon 60-1-Ala (bivalent metal derivatives of amino acid derivatives of fullerene), actively react with HIV and human cytomegalovirus and inhibit their replication. These molecules work by being inserted inside the binding areas of protease in HIV, i.e. in the water unreactive areas of protein.
The molecules also target the reverse transcriptase in HIV and are way more reactive than the initially used nonnucleoside analog inhibitors. Hepatitis C can be dealt with by using fullerene derivatives. Being antibacterial and antiproliferative, cationic fullerene derivatives have wide applications as well.
A special type of fullerene derivatives, i.e. the water-insoluble ones, can be used to battle various viruses. An example we can consider is of vesicular stomatitis virus, which becomes inactive when kept with the fullerene derivatives under the light. This happens due to the production of singlet oxygen.
7. Fullerenes in Drug Delivery and Gene Delivery
The term used for transporting medicines to the desired destination at the time of need is known as drug delivery, while gene delivery is referred to as introducing foreign DNA into cells, through which certain changes become visible. Therefore, it is very important to deliver these molecules successfully while making sure no harm comes to them.
Fullerenes are generally preferred by quite a lot of scientists due to the fact that they depict many useful properties e.g. they are very small and can easily be diffused, they have very good biocompatibility, they do not lose their original reactivity, and possess greater selectivity. Amino acid derivatives of fullerene are first linked to the DNA sequences and then the sequences break their links with the carriers, losing their amino groups. It has been shown by biochemical studies that these derivatives have exhibited more defensive properties in comparison to the traditional vectors which were previously used.
Fullerenes have been proved to be very effective in the transportation of hydrophobic drugs. Moreover, these carriers help in releasing hydrophobic drugs very slowly into the system. One of them is C 60-paclitaxel conjugate which has the properties that make it anticancerous and it can safely disseminate through intact skin whereas a fullerene-based peptide has properties that can pierce and harm the skin.
8. Fullerenes as Photosensitizers in Photodynamic Therapy
PDT, also known as Photodynamic Therapy is a type of therapy where a special non-toxic light-sensitive compound is used, which turns toxic whenever it comes in contact with light and is used to kill cells that become hostile. Fullerenes are used as the “compounds” in the above method. Fullerenes possess the ability to gain bouts of energy upon being exposed to light, when coming back to the ground state, these compounds release energy which has the ability to convert oxygen molecules into singlet oxygen which might turn out to be cytotoxic.
Being excellent electron acceptors, fullerenes can be converted into radicals in the presence of electron donors. By transferring the extra electrons to oxygen molecules, these radicals can produce both hydroxyl radicals and anionic superoxide. The DNA damage is caused by these radicals and it can also cause cell death. In some cases, some particular fullerenes combine with DNA and proteins. It is highly likely that they can be used to develop another technique of anticancer therapy.
The field of Medicine has now opened many options for themselves such as molecular therapies that use diagnostics and therapeutics, all thanks to the newly discovered element i.e. Fullerenes. The efforts which are being made for the product evolution are all concentrated on synthesizing a portfolio of nanomedicines and are also being directed towards aiming at various diseases and towards the betterment of diagnostic imaging.
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