Since their discovery in 1991, carbon nanotubes (CNTs) were an exciting possibility for the medical research community to overcome barriers in a wide variety of applications including: drug delivery, regenerative medicine, gene therapy, bio-sensors, orthotics, devices, immunotherapy, diagnostics, and material optimization. Yet while CNT research has evolved over the past quarter century, some obstacles still needed to be overcome for widespread medical application. Achieving a scalable technology to make discrete, clean, safe consistent batches of functional carbon nanotubes has been elusive. Previously, no meaningful commercial use for CNTs had been established in the medical field due to these issues.
Traditional Carbon Nanotubes Properties
- Rolled sheets of graphene on the nano scale
- Extraordinary mechanical, chemical, electrical, and thermal properties
- >100x stronger than steel at 1/6 the weight and 5x the elasticity
- 5x more electrically conductive, 15x more thermally conductive and 1000x the current capacity than copper
- Ultra high surface area and aspect ratio (ratio of length to diameter)
- Hollow on the inside
- Functionalizable surface area (inside and out) for covalent or non-covalent bonding of a wide variety of molecules
- Distinct optical properties such as high absorption across the infrared (IR) spectrum
- Potential disruptive technology for drug delivery
- Physical properties make them superior for use in drug delivery than other nanovectors, like liposomes, polymeric systems, and antibody drug conjugates (ADCs)
- No meaningful commercial use in the medical field due to issues with safety and scale-up
BioPact, a medical nanotechnology development company, has transformed CNTs into a unique composition of matter. This reimagined nanotube is known as Medical Grade MOLECULAR REBAR®(MGMR®), or MGMR and it marks a complete departure from the dirty, tangled micron bundles of CNTs that frustrated medical researchers for years. Now, pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and other medical product development programs can utilize the benefits of CNT properties though MGMR; the potential of the carbon nanotube in a practical application.
MGMR, A Major Breakthrough
BioPact has created unique material and a scalable process, protected by several granted and filed patents, to make the world’s first medical grade carbon nanotube. Medical Grade Molecular Rebar has demonstrated an unprecedented safety profile in studies commissioned by BioPact.
Less than a micron in length, MGMR is composed of individual, discrete, dispersed, length controlled, surface functionalized, multi-walled carbon nanotubes. Utilizing these advanced physical properties has allowed for the development of an exceptional drug delivery system when compared to liposomes, polymeric systems, and antibody drug conjugates.
MGMR carbon nanotubes hold tremendous potential in medicine due to their high aspect ratio: their relatively long length and small diameter means they have an extremely high surface area that allows them to enter cells and potentially cross the blood-brain barrier. MGMR mitigates safety concerns associated working with traditional CNTs, no longer limiting the vast potential for advancement in an array of medical applications. View applications
MGMR: Specifications and Novel Physical Properties
- Inner diameter = 4-5 nm
- Outer diameter = 12-14 nm
- Average length = 900nm
- Purity ~ 99.8%
- Discrete & dispersed
- Open ended tubes
- Surface functionalized
- Produced economically at scale
- Batch to batch consistency
Optimizing the Manufacturing Process of MGMR
Current manufacturing processes for CNTs leave behind traces of heavy and sometimes toxic metals such as cadmium, lead and alumina, which can leach out. This manufacturing process also frequently results in a ‘knotted amorphous mass’ of tubes, ranging from a few microns to tens of microns long that have lost their needle-like shape and are associated with asbestos-like carcinogenicity problems seen in animal studies. MGMR can be produced economically in large batches, free of unwanted metal impurities, and in discrete, ready-to-use form.
The attractive properties of bundled CNTs such as their small size, large surface area and high aspect ratio, are the very properties that raise issues of toxicity. There may be several mechanisms of causing cell damage, including DNA damage. Studies suggest that these bundled, fibrous CNTs can induce adverse cellular responses and exhibit carcinogenic behavior similar to that of asbestos.
Our testing has shown MGMR is well tolerated at high therapeutic doses. This opens MGMR up for potential use in a very broad range of drug delivery applications – even less potent drugs requiring higher dose volume.
The carbon nanotubes studied in the literature to-date are bundled, tangled clumps of carbon nanotubes. These bundled up tubes can have length to diameter ratios as high as 28,000,000:1 and disperse poorly in aqueous solutions and are therefore unsuitable for medical use. To the extent they are able to be dispersed, for example, by coating them with a polymer , there has been no meaningful commercialization utilizing CNTs in medical applications because the cost to overcome the inefficiencies associated with bundling makes scaling cost prohibitive.
We have untangled the carbon nanotube. Consistent batches of individual (discrete), length-controlled, clean, open-ended and evenly dispersed carbon nanotubes are being manufactured in large quantities in a scalable manufacturing process.
Lab Results: Non-Scalable
Despite the abundant research performed in labs all over the world for the last 2+ decades that almost universally “endorse the usefulness of functionalized CNTs as a potential carrier for the anticancer molecule to target the cancer cell without causing toxicity to other viable cells” , meaningful commercialization is non-existent. The reason for this is no matter what impressive results may be able to be achieved in the lab, overcoming the intrinsic challenges (including toxicity) posed by the bundled nature of these traditional CNTs is cost prohibitive for scale-up.
Similar to what Eli Whitney’s cotton gin did for raw cotton, our proprietary manufacturing process converts bundles of carbon nanotubes into individual (discrete), clean (~99.8% pure – without sacrificing other desirable properties), open-ended, optimal length / diameter (aspect ratio ~60) tubes with virtually no waste of the carbon nanotube material. Our manufacturing process is scalable. We are in production now with the capacity to manufacture at commercial scale for use in medical research and applications.
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 Ji, S.R.; Liu, C.; Zhang, B.; Yang, F.; Xu, J.; Long, J.; Jin, C.; Fu, D.L.; Ni, Q.X.; Yu, X.J. Carbon nanotubes in cancer diagnosis and therapy. Biochim. Biophys. Acta., v. 1806, n. 1, p. 29-35, 2010, Thurnherr, T.; Brandenberger, C.; Fischer, K.; Diener, L.; Manser, P.; Maeder-Althaus, X.; Kaiser, J.P.; Krug, H.F.; Rothen-Rutishauser, B.; Wick, P.A. Comparison of acute and long-term effects of industrial multi-walled carbon nanotubes on human lung and immune cells in vitro. Toxicol. Lett., v.200, n.3, p.176-186, 2011.
 Kushwaha, et al., 2013
 Rastogi, V; Yadav, P.; Bhattacharya, S.; Mishra, A.: Verma, N.; Verma, A.; Pandit, J. Carbon Nanotubes: An Emerging Drug Carrier for Targeting Cancer Cells, Journal of Drug Delivery, v. 2014, Article ID 670815, p. 1-23, 2014, Kushwaha et al., 2013