Research Highlight

Oral pill nanotubes

doi:10.1038/nindia.2010.48 Published online 13 April 2010

Tiny nanotubes might now deliver therapeutic RNA and DNA inside the body in the form of oral pills, new research shows.

The nanotubes may pave the way for next-generation micropills to deliver biomaterials for gene therapy and novel cargoes for molecular diagnostics.

The drawback of using nanomaterials is their progressive accumulation in live tissues and inefficient degradation. To overcome this, researchers have produced nanotubes using p-aminobenzoic acid (PABA), a part of folic acid and vitamin B complex that normally occurs in human liver.

They added fluorescent material to the PABA nanotubes (PNTs) and tested their cellular uptake in insect (Drosophila), mammalian cells and human cervical cancer cells. The nanotubes were spontaneously adsorbed onto the membrane and the internalisation process involved insertion and diffusion of nanotubes across cell membranes.

When fed to adult Drosophila, the nanotubes didn't cause any impairment in their sex, egg laying capacity or survivability. Eggs laid by nanotube-fed females showed no traces of the nanomaterial. This eliminates the rare possibility of genetic inheritance of nanomaterials in successive generations through germ cells.

PABA might help convert intestinal bacteria into folic acids and protect against strokes, cardiovascular diseases and certain cancers. PNTs play a dual role, directly as a delivery vehicle of therapeutic agents and indirectly by preventing different diseases as a therapeutic agent itself, the researchers say.

The authors of this work are from: Division of Organic Chemistry-I, Indian Institute of Chemical Technology and Functional Genomics and Gene Silencing Group, Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Hyderabad, India.


  1. Yadav, S. J. et al. 4-N-pyridin-2-yl-benzamide nanotubes compatible with mouse stem cell and oral delivery in Drosophila. Nanotechnology 21, 155102 (2010)  | Article | PubMed | ADS |