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  Latest News  
  September 23, 2004  


  Buckyballs Damage Cell Membranes
Toxicity of C60 species varies dramatically with surface modification

  The toxicity of water-soluble fullerene species in two different human cell lines has been reported by a team from Rice University and Georgia Institute of Technology [Nano Lett., published online Sept. 11, http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/nl0489586].

Rice University chemistry professor Vicki L. Colvin and colleagues found that the sparingly soluble colloids of C60 that form in water—dubbed nano- C60 by the group—exhibit cytotoxicity in human skin and liver carcinoma cells at concentrations as low as 20 ppb. They also found that this toxicity decreases considerably with surface modification of the C60 molecule. For example, the fullerene derivative C60(OH)24 shows no toxicity up to the limits of its solubility—greater than 5,000,000 ppb.

The group attributes nano- C60’s toxicity to the compound’s ability to generate superoxide anions. These oxygen radicals damage cell membranes and lead to cell death.

Colvin and colleagues say this work demonstrates a strategy for enhancing fullerene toxicity for use as a bactericide or cancer therapeutic. However, they note that as C60 finds widespread use in consumer products, it will be important to consider the effects that unintentional generation of nano- C60 may have on the environment.
  Chemical & Engineering News
ISSN 0009-2347
Copyright © 2004

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