Research Highlight

Sugar coated spheres

Biplab Das

doi:10.1038/nindia.2008.285 Published online 22 September 2008

New versatile carbon nanospheres made from glucose have shown promise in ferrying molecules to liver, spleen and brain and aid in activation of genes1. These nanospheres don't need any surface modifications and can be tracked inside the cells without any fluorescence tag.

Researchers have created these carbon nanospheres from glucose solution using a special method. Mice experiments have shown that the nanospheres target the nucleus of mammalian cells without any toxic effects. It is difficult to cross the barrier between blood and brain. But, the nanospheres crossed the barrier to reach the brain. The tiny spheres also journey to liver and spleen. The surface of these nanospheres is highly functionalized. The study found that the nanospheres were continuously removed from tissues of brain, liver and spleen showing that their easy removal is not a problem.

When their ability to ferry molecules was tested, the tiny spheres worked wonders. They delivered a membrane-impermeable molecule CTPB (N-(4-chloro-3-trifluoromethylphenyl)-2-ethoxybenzamide), the only known small-molecule activator of histone acetyltransferase (HAT) p300. As HAT p300 helps activate gene, the results establish an alternative path for the activation of gene expression, the researchers say.

The authors of this work are from: Transcription and Disease Laboratory, Molecular Biology and Genetics Unit, Nanomaterials and Catalysis Laboratory, Chemistry and Physics of Materials Unit, DST Unit on Nanoscience, Confocal Facility, and Molecular Biology and Genetics Unit of Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research, Jakkur, Bangalore.


  1. Selvi, R. B. et al. Intrinsically Fluorescent Carbon Nanospheres as a Nuclear Targeting Vector: Delivery of Membrane-Impermeable Molecule to Modulate Gene Expression In Vivo. Nano Lett. doi: 10.1021/nl801503m (2008)