The aim of this proposal is to introduce controllable/logical molecular devices onto carbon based nanomaterials which may be subsequently used as delivery vehicles for photodynamic therapy of tumours. The long-term strategy of the research is to produce responsive or “intelligent” nanoparticle based delivery systems in which “communication” is achieved between diagnostic, imaging and therapeutic functions. Initially a range of molecules that are capable of inducing cell death through production of singlet oxygen (photosensitizers) will be designed and synthesized. Although these molecules are a very powerful treatment method a general disadvantage is that they cannot differentiate between healthy and tumour tissues. This major drawback will be overcome in this project by preparing novel photosensitizers with various receptor units that will allow singlet oxygen production to be switched on/off in the presence/absence of certain substrates, thus inhibiting the damage of healthy cells. The second disadvantage often related with photosensitizers is their low aqueous solubility, which results in extremely poor intracellular transport. This problem will be circumvented by introduction of the switchable photosensitizers onto the surface of single wall carbon nanotubes, which have recently attracted enormous attention as a result of their great potential as intracellular delivery vehicles. Novel soluble carbon nanotubes functionalised with switchable photosensitizers will be prepared and characterised for their ability to induce selective cell death of unhealthy tissue and enhance intracellular transport of the active molecules. In parallel carbon nano-onions (concentric multilayer fullerenes) will also be utilised for the first time as a drug delivery vehicle. This is of great interest to us as a potential delivery vehicle as thier physical dimensions are much closer to that of biomolecules than those of fullerene, yet may be more easily characterised than nanotubes.
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