27 October 2022

Fullerene accelerated wound healing

Mikhail Orlov, Naked Science

Carbon is the chemical element at the heart of all organic substances and, therefore, life on Earth. In addition, in its pure form it forms inorganic substances — a number of so-called allotropic forms of carbon. People have long known coal, diamond and graphite, which are very different in physical properties, but at the molecular level differ only in the relative positions of carbon atoms.

Later, more complicated allotropic modifications of carbon were discovered — the famous graphene and, long before that, lonsdale and fullerenes. Fullerenes (including the "ancestor" of this group — buckminsterfullerene) are named in honor of Richard Buckminster Fuller — the famous American architect, engineer and thinker. Among his futuristic creations are "geodesic domes", structures in the form of polyhedra assembled from many identical segments.

Therefore, when, at the end of the XX century, chemists impressed by Fuller's hangars received a new form of carbon from 60 atoms (C60), they gave such substances a modern name. Also, because of the shape, fullerenes are often compared to a soccer ball.

Later, these compounds were found in nature, including in the atmosphere (formed by lightning discharges), in minerals like shungite and even in deep space.

The curious fullerenes themselves are attracting increasing attention as a promising material (for example, as semiconductors) and due to their unique biological properties. Thus, the most studied fullerene C60 has a pronounced antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiviral and even antiallergic effect.

This impressive list was supplemented by Russian scientists from various universities and institutes of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the authors of a new article in the journal Nanomedicine: Nanotechnology, Biology, and Medicine (Shershakova et al., Wound healing activity of aquatic dispersion of fullerene C60 produced by “green technology”). Using the eco-friendly technology of synthesis of fullerene C60 and obtaining a suspension of this compound in water, they were able to give it a convenient form of ointment.

The drug was used in standard experiments on mice with damaged skin — surgical cuts and chemical burns. The authors wanted to find out how fullerene ointment will affect wound healing in comparison with the "Bepanten plus" and "Dexpentanol" commonly used in such cases.

As a result, 12 days after the surgical application of the injury, fullerene was the most effective (the wounds treated with it healed the fastest). In the case of a chemical burn, it accelerated healing as well as Dexpentanol.


To find out the mechanism of this effect, the researchers paid attention to molecular changes in healing tissues. It turned out that fullerene ointment increased the concentration of amphoterin (anti-inflammatory cytokine), increased the activity of vascular endothelial growth factor and reduced the synthesis of pro-inflammatory factors.

"Taken together, these results show that the aqueous dispersion of fullerene C60 can have great potential in the treatment of surgical and chemical wounds," the scientists are convinced.

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