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 Nanotube Properties
- Concentric nested tubes 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)
- 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®, or MGMR®, and it marks a complete departure from the dirty, tangled micron sized 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 unique physical properties. Their extremely high surface area and aspect ratio allows for cargo attachment that penetrates deeply into cells and organs; potentially crossing the blood-brain barrier. MGMR’s safety profile is far superior to traditional CNTs which reinvigorates the long-theorized potential of the technology for CNTs an array of medical applications. View applications
MGMR: Specifications and Novel Physical Properties
- Inner diameter = 4-5 nm
- Outer diameter = 12-14 nm
- Number of walls = 10
- Average length = 850 nm
- Purity ~ 99.8%
- Discrete & dispersed
- Open ended tubes
- Surface functionalized
- Produced economically at scale
- Batch to batch consistency
Optimizing the Manufacturing Process of MGMR
Molecular Rebar®, the primary ingredient in MGMR®, is produced economically in commercial scale batches free of unwanted metal impurities and in discrete, ready-to-use form. Current manufacturing processes for traditional CNTs leave behind traces of heavy, sometimes toxic metals such as cadmium, lead, and alumina which can leach out during use. This manufacturing process of traditional CNTs results in a ‘knotted amorphous mass’ of tubes, ranging from tens to hundreds of microns in diameter in an assembly where the tubes lose their individuality and become associated with asbestos-like carcinogenicity. The manufacturing process of Molecular Rebar mitigates these problems.
The impure, highly aggregated nature of store-bought, traditional CNTs exhibit cell and system 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.
Studies show MGMR to be well tolerated at levels above therapeutically relevant doses. This opens MGMR up for potential use in a broad range of drug delivery applications.
The carbon nanotubes studied in the literature to-date are bundled, tangled clumps of carbon nanotubes. These bundled up tubes have massive interconnected macrostructures, unrealized aspect ratios because of their aggregated state, and incompatibilities with aqueous solutions which, together, make them 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.
The proprietary manufacturing process for MR converts bundles of carbon nanotubes into individual (discrete), clean (~99.8% pure), open-ended, optimal length / diameter (aspect ratio ~60) nanoscale tubes. BioPact’s MGMR manufacturing process involves relatively simple steps, easily accessible materials and standard equipment, and so is scalable. We are in production now with the capacity to manufacture MGMR at a scale that well exceeds our usage in medical research and studies. We have plans in place to bring capacity up to commercial scale in the near term with expectations that our already low costs will reduce further and technical hurdles to be minimal and manageable.
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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.
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 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