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Biological properties of graphene

Ewa Sawosz Chwalibóg ,  Sławomir Jaworski ,  Marta Grodzik ,  Mateusz Wierzbicki ,  Marta Prasek 

Szkoła Główna Gospodarstwa Wiejskiego (SGGW), Nowoursynowska 166, Warszawa 02-787, Poland


Graphene - one of the allotropic forms of carbon is regarded as a structure that will revolutionize the electronics. This allotropic form of carbon consists of a single layer of sp2 bonded atoms and is considered as the finest and most durable layer capable of free existence. Because of its unique structure, graphene exhibits chemical properties, which can have vital biological applications. Graphene is vulnerable for the self-organization processes with organic molecules, it is nearly transparent and impermeable to the other atoms, It has also gas sorption properties and it is resistant to water and body fluids. Only few studies investigated the effect of graphene on selected biological molecules and organisms such as bacteria and cell lines cultured in vitro but the results are conflicting and not conclusive.

The objective of the present studies was to determine the potential aplicabilty of graphene as a modifier of the biological functions of living organisms.

The non-functionalized graphene (SkySpring Nanomaterials Inc., Houston, USA) was applied and its effects on the morphology, toxicity, expression of selected genes and proteins in experimental in vitro models with proteins and nucleic acids, bacteria Salmonella Enteritidis and glioblastoma cell lines, and in in vivo animal models with chicken embryos and mice.

The results showed relatively low toxicity of graphene, both to cell lines and animal models. Furthermore, there was a strong tendency of single cell organisms to settle on specific areas of graphene flakes, indicating possibilities of constructing special bacterial “rafts”, which can be used for diagnosis or immuno-modulations. Our preliminary studies also indicated the possibility of using graphene as a platform for delivering DNA or signal proteins. Furthermore, we observed that a super thin graphene flake might act as a "cell blocker" of abnormally developing cells.

These preliminary studies indicate a wide range of applications of graphene in biology and medicine. However, the future research has to be carried out with graphene with precisely known physical characteristics, and this requires a close interdisciplinary cooperation between physicists and biologists.


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Related papers

Presentation: Oral at Nano-Biotechnologia PL, by Ewa Sawosz Chwalibóg
See On-line Journal of Nano-Biotechnologia PL

Submitted: 2012-06-01 15:39
Revised:   2012-06-04 11:42