Editorial Feature

Combining Carbon Nanotubes and DNA Technologies

In this article, we will outline how nanomaterials such as carbon nanotubes can be used for various applications, including DNA technology.

Abstract plexus DNA oragnic background

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Combining Nanomaterials with DNA Technology

Nanomaterials have gained traction over recent years for a wide range of applications in various fields, including medicine, engineering, electronics and even the environment.

Structural DNA nanotechnology was spearheaded by Ned Seeman and his colleagues in 1982. The foundation of DNA nanotechnology is based on stabilized branch junctions formed by DNA, which can be further altered through sticky ends that can enable the structure to become even more organized, with elevated structures and lattices that can be developed.

There are various ways that nanomaterials can be used in DNA technology, including fields such as biomedicine, chemistry and materials. Tissue engineering is a significant field that enables DNA nanotechnology to be used to allow for the modification of biological behaviors of cells, as well as being applied to the regeneration of bone and cartilage.

Carbon Nanotubes

Carbon nanotubes (CNT) consist of carbon atoms arranged in a cylindrical nanostructure and can be either single-walled or multi-walled. Single-walled carbon nanotubes can have less than 1 nm in diameter and include one sheet of graphene, which is one atom thick. Multi-walled carbon nanotubes can comprise many interlinked nanotubes, with a few layers of graphene sheets reaching more than 100 nm in diameter.

The various lengths of carbon nanotubes as well as their strong chemical bonds, enable these nanomaterials to be desirable for many applications. A few promising properties of CNTs include having high strength and low weight and having highly conductive and thermal characteristics. The remarkable characteristics of CNTs enable these nanomaterials to be applied to various applications, including DNA technology.

Nanoelectronics and Computing

Novel advancement with hybrid DNA nanostructures or carbon nanotubes includes the development of 3D stacked transistors at high density. This development by 3-D BRICKS aims to provide a platform for the next generation of electronic nanodevices, such as logics and digital circuits, that intends to be fast, reliable and easily interconnected through 2D and 3D configurations.

With the current demand for new devices that may not be met by current semiconductor technologies, transformative advancements in nanoelectronics and computing may be desirable for novel developments.

Novel technology utilizing carbon nanotubes can be useful in many applications, including biosensors and point-of-care devices such as glucose monitors.


Carbon nanotubes have also been researched for their use in developing nanovaccines due to their capacity to be bio-conjugated with peptides and proteins. These nanomaterials can carry antigens and promote an immune response, and similarly, CNT vaccines have also demonstrated their ability to produce an effective immune response.

Using carbon nanotubes for immunotherapies can allow medical advancements that may revolutionize conventional vaccine development methods. The design of CNT-based immunotherapy has been explored for ovarian cancer, which focuses on the uptake of CNTs, a process that is dependent on the synthesis method of CNTs, as well as their size and functionalization. Applying CNTs for immunotherapy may be revolutionary for many diseases, especially diseases that do not yet have effective treatment management.

Drug and Gene Delivery

Additionally, the easy uptake of CNTs into many different cell types enables these nanomaterials to be desirable for biomedical applications such as drug and gene delivery. CNTs can be directly penetrated through the cell membrane as well as through passive uptake, which allows them to be suitable candidates for drug and gene delivery.

CNTs can be utilized in drug and gene delivery through functionalization, which allows specific cell types to be targeted for the gene or drug to be delivered effectively, enabling medical intervention for many types of diseases.

Interestingly, there have also been some studies that demonstrate functionalized CNTs as having the ability to pass through physical barriers, including the blood-brain barrier, which prevents many drug molecules from treating diseases within the brain. This is significant as advanced development of medical treatments with functionalized CNTs may enable diseases in the brain to be targeted and treated, providing hope for a whole population of patients.


Nanomaterials and nanotechnology have provided advancements for many fields and with carbon nanotubes having unique properties, they have become a desirable research area for many fields, from electronics to medicine. This development can only pave the way for a more advanced future, and when used in DNA technologies, it has the potential to assist the health of global populations.

Continue: The Evolving Landscape of DNA Nanotechnology

References and Further Reading

Beg, S., et al. (2010) ‘Advancement in carbon nanotubes: basics, biomedical applications and toxicity’, Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology, vol. 63, no. 2, pp. 141–163. doi:10.1111/j.2042-7158.2010.01167.x

Bekkouche, I., et al. (2023) Recent Advances in DNA Nanomaterials. Nanomaterials, 13(17), pp. 2449–2449. doi.org/10.3390/nano13172449.

Eatemadi, A., et al. (2014) Carbon nanotubes: properties, synthesis, purification, and medical applications. Nanoscale Research Letters, [online] 9(1), p. 393. doi:10.1186/1556-276x-9-393

Guzmán-Mendoza, J. J., et al. (2023) Non-cytotoxic carbon nanotubes bioconjugated with fucosyltransferase 4-derived peptides modulate macrophage polarization in vitro. Research Square (Research Square). doi:10.21203/rs.3.rs-3222262/v1

Rao, R., et al. (2018) Carbon Nanotubes and Related Nanomaterials: Critical Advances and Challenges for Synthesis toward Mainstream Commercial Applications. ACS Nano, 12(12), pp. 11756–11784. doi:10.1021/acsnano.8b06511

Sánchez‐Pomales, G., et al. (2009) DNA-Functionalized Carbon Nanotubes for Biosensing Applications. Journal of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology, 9(4), pp. 2175–2188. doi:10.1166/jnn.2009.se47

Seeman, N.C. (2010) Nanomaterials Based on DNA. Annual Review of Biochemistry, 79(1), pp. 65–87. doi:10.1146/annurev-biochem-060308-102244

Zare, H., et al. (2021) Carbon Nanotubes: Smart Drug/Gene Delivery Carriers. International Journal of Nanomedicine, [online] 16, pp. 1681–1706. doi:10.2147/ijn.s299448

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Marzia Khan

Written by

Marzia Khan

Marzia Khan is a lover of scientific research and innovation. She immerses herself in literature and novel therapeutics which she does through her position on the Royal Free Ethical Review Board. Marzia has a MSc in Nanotechnology and Regenerative Medicine as well as a BSc in Biomedical Sciences. She is currently working in the NHS and is engaging in a scientific innovation program.


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