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BioMed Research International
Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 578290, 12 pages
Review Article

Carbon Nanotubes: Applications in Pharmacy and Medicine

1China Pharmaceutical University, Nanjing 210009, China
2Key Laboratory of Drug Quality Control and Pharmacovigilance, Ministry of Education, China Pharmaceutical University, Nanjing 210009, China
3Department of Pharmacy, Stanford University Medical Center, Palo Alto, CA 94304, USA
4Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Paris V, 4 avenue de l’Observatoire, 75006 Paris, France

Received 7 July 2013; Accepted 26 July 2013

Academic Editor: Takeshi Noda

Copyright © 2013 Hua He et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) are allotropes of carbon, made of graphite and constructed in cylindrical tubes with nanometer in diameter and several millimeters in length. Their impressive structural, mechanical, and electronic properties are due to their small size and mass, their strong mechanical potency, and their high electrical and thermal conductivity. CNTs have been successfully applied in pharmacy and medicine due to their high surface area that is capable of adsorbing or conjugating with a wide variety of therapeutic and diagnostic agents (drugs, genes, vaccines, antibodies, biosensors, etc.). They have been first proven to be an excellent vehicle for drug delivery directly into cells without metabolism by the body. Then other applications of CNTs have been extensively performed not only for drug and gene therapies but also for tissue regeneration, biosensor diagnosis, enantiomer separation of chiral drugs, extraction and analysis of drugs and pollutants. Moreover, CNTs have been recently revealed as a promising antioxidant. This minireview focuses the applications of CNTs in all fields of pharmacy and medicine from therapeutics to analysis and diagnosis as cited above. It also examines the pharmacokinetics, metabolism and toxicity of different forms of CNTs and discusses the perspectives, the advantages and the obstacles of this promising bionanotechnology in the future.