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July 21st, 2006
Writing in the journal Nano Letters, a team of researchers based at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland report their studies on how shape, size and surface properties affect cellular toxicity. This team, led by Arnaud Magrez, Ph.D., added increasing concentrations of multi-walled carbon nanotubes, carbon nanofibers, or carbon nanoparticles to three different types of cultured human lung tumor cells and measured changes in cell proliferation and overall cellular health. The researchers found evidence of toxicity as soon as 24 hours after dosing with all three materials and in each cell line, though multi-walled carbon nanotubes were the least toxic in all assays.
Studies with both types of nanotubes showed that they were taken up readily by immune system cells. However, none of the immune cells showed any signs of toxicity. Additional experiments showed that the functionalized nanotubes did not affect the functional activity of these cells either. The researchers note that their results confirm the findings of other laboratories that water-soluble carbon nanotubes have limited or no toxicity when tested in a wide variety of cell types.
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