Carbon-Based Nanomaterials: Promising Antiviral Agents to Combat COVID-19 in the Microbial-Resistant Era

ACS Nano. 2021 Apr 7. doi: 10.1021/acsnano.1c00629. Online ahead of print.


Therapeutic options for the highly pathogenic human severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) causing the current pandemic coronavirus disease (COVID-19) are urgently needed. COVID-19 is associated with viral pneumonia and acute respiratory distress syndrome causing significant morbidity and mortality. The proposed treatments for COVID-19 have shown little or no effect in the clinic so far. Additionally, bacterial and fungal pathogens contribute to the SARS-CoV-2-mediated pneumonia disease complex. The antibiotic resistance in pneumonia treatment is increasing at an alarming rate. Therefore, carbon-based nanomaterials (CBNs), such as fullerene, carbon dots, graphene, and their derivatives constitute a promising alternative due to their wide-spectrum antimicrobial activity, biocompatibility, biodegradability, and capacity to induce tissue regeneration. Furthermore, the antimicrobial mode of action is mainly physical (e.g., membrane distortion), characterized by a low risk of antimicrobial resistance. In this Review, we evaluated the literature on the antiviral activity and broad-spectrum antimicrobial properties of CBNs. CBNs had antiviral activity against 13 enveloped positive-sense single-stranded RNA viruses, including SARS-CoV-2. CBNs with low or no toxicity to humans are promising therapeutics against the COVID-19 pneumonia complex with other viruses, bacteria, and fungi, including those that are multidrug-resistant.

Keywords: COVID-19; SARS-CoV-2; antiviral properties; carbon dots; carbon-based nanomaterials; fullerene; graphene; pneumonia; tissue regeneration.