Fullerene or Carbon-60 is an allotrope of carbon, and due to ease of synthesis, it has several applications in different industries. The biomedical applications are more significant. They are used as antioxidants, antiviral agents, photosensitizers, hardening agents and much more. The following is the complete list of the medical uses of fullerenes.
Antioxidants – Fullerene is an excellent antioxidant thanks to its large number of double bonds and high electron affinity. It can react with a large number of molecules. For example, it can react with as many as 34 methyl radicals before being consumed completely. That is why it is called the radical sponge. These molecules are localized with the cell. They also protect against ultraviolet radiation. They also prevent skin damage and premature aging.
Antiviral Agents – Fullerene can suppress the replication of the HIV and therefore, delay the onset of AIDS. This is one of the main reasons why it managed to grab attention in the medical field. The cationic fullerene derivatives are natural antibacterial and anti-proliferative. Moreover, the water-insoluble derivatives of fullerene show antiviral activities, and the viruses lose their infectivity.
Delivery – Fullerene is effective in delivering drug and gene. Drug delivery is transporting the pharmaceutical compounds from one site to another, and gene delivery is the introduction of foreign DNA into targeted cells. Fullerene has more protective abilities, and therefore, it is a perfect agent for delivery. This is due to the fact the Fullerene belongs to a class of inorganic carriers, and they show more bio-compatibility and greater selectivity. Moreover, they are small enough to be diffused safely.
Photosensitizer – Photosensitizers are used in photodynamic therapy where non-toxic light-sensitive compound is used for treatment. Basically, it is used for the treatment of the targeted malignant cell. Upon irradiation, fullerenes are broken down into several radicals. These radicals can damage the DNA of the targeted cells, and this leads to the death of the cells. Therefore, it is under research whether it can be used for anticancer therapy or not. It can be a breakthrough in the treatment of tumor cells. However, the only concern is that if the radicals of photosensitizer stay in the body for long, it can damage unwanted cells.
Miscellaneous – Fullerene is used in the design of MRI contrast agents. Moreover, it is also a part of X-ray imaging contrast agents. The research is going on to look into the other potential uses of Fullerene such as in the sensors and in molecular conductors. Apart from the biomedical field, there are various applications of Fullerene possible in the cosmetic industry. The best part is that the wide-scale industrial production of Fullerene is going to make it affordable in whichever field it finds its application.