Boron nitride nanotubes, similarly to carbon nanotubes, have attracted wide attention in the nanotechnology field thanks to their potentially unique and important properties in structural and electronic applications. A boron nitride nanotube (BNNT) is a structural analogue of a carbon nanotube (CNT), but, despite this similarity, it presents much more improved chemical and physical properties. Theoretical and experimental data, moreover, demonstrated that they work as excellent piezoelectric systems, with response values larger than those of piezoelectric polymers and comparable to those exhibited by wurtzite semiconductors.
In nanomedicine, BNNTs have also attracted great interest, having our group pioneered biomedical applications of BNNTs. Exploitation of BNNTs range from nanovectors for drug delivery purposes to intracellular nanotransducers.
Our results (recently also extended in vivo) indicate excellent compatibility with biological systems of the proposed vectors, that own a promising capability to modulate the activity of several cells and tissues thanks to their piezoelectricity. This approach could represent in the near future a smart solution to combine topographical, chemical and physical cues into a single platform, for a successful regeneration of different kinds of tissues or biohybrid devices. Among the already mentioned applications in regenerative medicine, the concept of a "wireless" stimulation mediated by piezoelectric materials could find several applications in life sciences wherever electrical stimulation is needed (deep brain stimulation, gastric stimulation, cardiac pacing, skeletal muscle stimulation, etc.).
Related IIT publications
- G. Ciofani, S. Danti, G. G. Genchi, D. D'Alessandro, J.L. Pellequer,
- M. Odorico, V. Mattoli, G. Giorgi, "Pilot in vivo toxicological investigation of boron nitride nanotubes", International Journal of Nanomedicine, in press.
- G. Ciofani, S. Danti, D. D'Alessandro, L. Ricotti, S. Moscato, G. Bertoni, A. Falqui, S. Berrettini, M. Petrini, V. Mattoli, A. Menciassi, "Enhancement of neurite outgrowth in neuronal-like cells following boron nitride nanotube-mediated stimulation", ACS Nano, 4(10): 6267–6277 (2010).
- G. Ciofani, S. Danti, D. D'Alessandro, S. Moscato, A. Menciassi, "Assessing cytotoxicity of boron nitride nanotubes: interference with the MTT assay", Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications, 394(2): 405-411 (2010).
- G. Ciofani, "Potential applications of boron nitride nanotubes as drug delivery systems", Expert Opinion on Drug Delivery, 7(8): 889-893 (2010).