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Synergistic photothermal ablative effects of functionalizing carbon nanotubes with a POSS-PCU nanocomposite polymer

Aaron Tan1, Seyed Yazdan Madani1, Jayakumar Rajadas2, Giorgia Pastorin3 and Alexander M Seifalian14*

Author Affiliations

1 Centre for Nanotechnology & Regenerative Medicine, UCL Division of Surgery & Interventional Science, University College London, London, NW3 2QG, UK

2 Department of Neurology & Neurological Sciences, Biomaterials & Advanced Drug Delivery Laboratory, School of Medicine, Stanford University, California, USA

3 Department of Pharmacy, Faculty of Science, National University of Singapore, Singapore, Singapore

4 Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust Hospital, London, UK

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Journal of Nanobiotechnology 2012, 10:34  doi:10.1186/1477-3155-10-34

Published: 31 July 2012



The application of nanotechnology in biology and medicine represents a significant paradigm shift in the approach to the treatment of cancer. Evidence suggests that when exposed to near-infrared radiation (NIR), carbon nanotubes (CNTs) dissipate a substantial amount of heat energy. We have developed a novel nanocomposite polymer, polyhedral oligomeric silsesquioxane poly (carbonate-urea) urethane (POSS-PCU). POSS-PCU displays excellent biocompatibility and has been used in making artificial organs as well as protective coatings for medical devices.


Functionalizing (or “coating”) CNTs with POSS-PCU confers biocompatibility and increase the amount of heat energy generated, by enhancing dispersion. Here we demonstrate that POSS-PCU-functionalized multi-walled CNTs (MWNTs) act synergistically together when exposed to NIR to thermally ablate cancer cells.


Given that POSS-PCU has already been used in human in first-in-man studies as trachea, lacrimal duct, bypass graft and other organs, our long-term goal is to take POSS-PCU coated CNTs to clinical studies to address the treatment of cancer by optimizing its therapeutic index and increasing its specificity via antibody conjugation.

Carbon nanotubes; POSS-PCU; Thermal ablation; Nanotechnology; Nanocomposite polymer; Colorectal cancer