Medicinal applications of fullerenes

Int J Nanomedicine. 2007;2(4):639-49.


Fullerenes have attracted considerable attention in different fields of science since their discovery in 1985. Investigations of physical, chemical and biological properties of fullerenes have yielded promising information. It is inferred that size, hydrophobicity, three-dimensionality and electronic configurations make them an appealing subject in medicinal chemistry. Their unique carbon cage structure coupled with immense scope for derivatization make them a potential therapeutic agent. The study of biological applications has attracted increasing attention despite the low solubility of carbon spheres in physiological media. The fullerene family, and especially C60, has appealing photo, electrochemical and physical properties, which can be exploited in various medical fields. Fullerene is able to fit inside the hydrophobic cavity of HIV proteases, inhibiting the access of substrates to the catalytic site of enzyme. It can be used as radical scavenger and antioxidant. At the same time, if exposed to light, fullerene can produce singlet oxygen in high quantum yields. This action, together with direct electron transfer from excited state of fullerene and DNA bases, can be used to cleave DNA. In addition, fullerenes have been used as a carrier for gene and drug delivery systems. Also they are used for serum protein profiling as MELDI material for biomarker discovery. In this review we report the aspects of medicinal applications of fullerenes.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antioxidants / chemistry*
  • Antioxidants / therapeutic use
  • Drug Carriers / chemistry*
  • Drug Carriers / therapeutic use
  • Fullerenes / chemistry*
  • Fullerenes / therapeutic use
  • Genetic Therapy / methods*
  • Nanomedicine / methods*
  • Nanostructures / chemistry*
  • Nanostructures / therapeutic use


  • Antioxidants
  • Drug Carriers
  • Fullerenes