An international team of scientists has developed a water-soluble “warped nanographene”, a flexible molecule that is biocompatible and shows promise for fluorescent cell imaging. The new nanographene molecule also induces cell death when exposed to blue laser light. Further investigation is required to determine how nanocarbons could be used for a range of biological applications, such as photodynamic therapy for cancer treatments.
Nagoya, Japan – A group of chemists and biologists at Nagoya University and Boston College, have succeeded in synthesizing a water-soluble warped nanographene molecule that is water soluble for the first time. This new molecule, recently described in the journal Angewandte Chemie International Edition, expands the biological applications for nanocarbons, including cancer cell imaging and possibly eradication.
Nanographenes, nano-sized carbon molecules, exhibit unique electronic, optical and mechanical properties, and have been recognized as promising materials for electronic and biomedical purposes. However, the flat structure of nanographenes leads to stacking and aggregation in solvents, making it difficult to dissolve in various solvents and thus causing complications for biological applications.
In 2013, Professor Kenichiro Itami, director of the JST-ERATO Itami Molecular Nanocarbon Project and the Institute of Transformative Bio-Molecules (ITbM) at Nagoya University and his co-workers synthesized a warped nanographene molecule with a saddle-shape structure. The unique organization of the molecule’s 26 graphene rings prevents aggregation, making it soluble in most common organic solvents. Moreover, it exhibits green fluorescence when irradiated with ultraviolet or blue light.