doi:10.1038/nindia.2014.17 Published online 11 February 2014
Researchers at the National Institute of Technology, Durgapur in West Bengal have shown that carbon nanotubes are in themselves potentially therapeutic to combat HIV and related retroviruses1 . At present, these nanotubes are used to ferry drugs and other therapeutic molecules to disease targets.
"It was not realised that the carbon nanotubes by themselves have some therapeutic properties," says one of the researchers R. Navanietha Krishnaraj. The team investigated the molecular interactions of different types of carbon nanotubes with the disease targets of HIV viruses. Their investigation has shown that carbon nanotubes are ideal candidates to inhibit three key target proteins of HIV.
Using computational chemistry approach, they modeled carbon nanotubes and used them as ligands for interaction studies with the HIV proteins. The carbon nanotubes had high binding affinity to these proteins "which confirms the antagonistic molecular interaction of carbon nanotubes to the disease targets," they report.
The team will now investigate the effect of the unzipped carbon nanotubes using systems biology approaches. "We also plan to develop nano-hybrid therapeutic molecules using carbon nanotubes and selected ligands", Krishnaraj says.