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This book provides a comprehensive overview of the potential use of graphene-based materials in two important societal areas: medicine and the environment. It discusses how new graphene-based materials can be creatively used for biological purposes, for example as delivery vehicles for diagnostics or therapeutics, ultrasensitive sensors, smart responsive substrates for artificial-tissue design and biomarkers. Moreover, it presents new insights into their use as sorbent or photocatalytic materials for environmental decontamination in water and gas-phase desalination membranes and as sensors for contaminant monitoring, giving relevance to the current discussions on the possible toxicological effects of graphene-based materials.



Medicine: Nanomedicine


Potential and Challenges of Graphene in Medicine

Graphene due to its excellent properties has attracted the great attention in the area of nanomedicine. Due to the high surface area and capability of biofunctionalization graphene provides an efficient platform for drug and gene delivery. Many studies indicate that graphene is an attractive tool for cancer diagnosis and therapy, allowing the improvement of already existing techniques by providing more precision and effectiveness in cancer treatment and also by reducing secondary side effects. Furthermore, graphene is able to induce tissue-specific inductive capabilities which are desirable in tissue engineering and its high biocompatiblity makes it very suitable for the growth and maintenence of adherent cells. In vitro studies show that graphene promotes stem cell growth and differentiation which makes it a valuable nanomaterial in regenerative medicine. However, because of the variety of different forms of graphene and different methods of synthesis, the existing findings regarding graphene toxicity and biological interactions are ambiguous and sometimes even contradictory. The inconsistency of available data and the lack of sufficient information make it hard to fully assess the suitability of graphene as a biomaterial or nanocarrier. Indeed, more systematic and standarized research procedures in graphene production are required. In this chapter we will focus on the possible applications of graphene-based materials in numerous areas of medicine such as cancer therapy, drug and gene delivery, tissue engineering and bioimaging.
Marta Skoda, Ilona Dudek, Dariusz Szukiewicz

Graphene-Based Materials in Biosensing, Bioimaging, and Therapeutics

Biomedical research has become extremely important in these days due to its direct impact on human health. The quest for the development of sophisticated materials for sensitive sensing, selective imaging and effective therapeutics has led to the creation of a unique class of materials known as graphene-based materials (GBMs). GBMs can be broadly classified into three groups: graphene-based nanocomposites, graphene quantum dots, and graphene-wrapped hybrids. These materials possess remarkable electrical, physical, and chemical properties, which can be exploited to develop efficient sensors, probes, and drugs. In this chapter, a detailed account about the synthetic strategies of these materials along with the mechanisms governing their performance in biosensing, bioimaging, and therapeutics is presented. The chapter highlights the suitability of GBMs in non-conventional and emerging techniques such as nonlinear photonics and photoacoustic imaging. The GBMs can also be employed to fabricate synergistic materials that are capable of simultaneous imaging and therapeutic actions. Therefore, the GBMs provide a promising platform for cutting-edge developments in the field of biomedical research.
Sivaramapanicker Sreejith, Hrishikesh Joshi, Yanli Zhao

Medicine: Biosensors


Hybrid Graphene Metallic Nanoparticles for Biodetection

Sensitive and accurate techniques for detection in water, environment and issues related to health, have been a great challenge among scientists. To date, many analytical tools based on different physical, chemical, and biological phenomena have been developed for detection of biomolecules, biomedical imaging, and biosensing, including fluorescence spectroscopy, surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS), electrochemistry, and techniques that are based on a specific biological recognition. However, due the demands of the new era and the advances in modern biomedicine, materials that combine relatively low detection limits, easiness of application, as well as low cost, are of great challenge. Herein, the progress towards graphene/metallic nanoparticle hybrids is discussed, emphasizing on the advances of different synthetic methods, the decoration with well-dispersed metallic particles (Au, Ag, Pt, Pd, Cu, and QDs) on graphene, as well as different bioapplications.
Manos Gkikas

Medicine: Tissue Engineering


Stem Cells Commitment on Graphene-Based Scaffolds

In the last years, a rapid development in production, and functionalization of graphene give rise to several products that have shown great potentials in many fields, such as nanoelectronics, energy technology, sensors, and catalysis. In this context we should not forget the biomedical application of graphene that became a new area with outstanding potential. The first study on graphene for biomedical applications has been performed by Dai in 2008 that reported the use of graphene oxide as an efficient nanocarrier for drug delivery. This pioneristic study opened the doors for the use of graphene in widespread biomedical applications such as drug/gene delivery, biological sensing and imaging, antibacterial materials, but also as biocompatible scaffold for cell culture and tissue engineering. The application of graphene-based scaffolds for tissue engineering applications is confirmed by the many exciting and intriguing literature reports over the last few years, that clearly confirm that graphene and its related substrates are excellent platforms for adhesion, proliferation, and differentiation of various cells such as human Mesenchymal stem cells, human neuronal stem cells, and induced pluripotent stem cells. Since most of the papers on this fields are related to in vitro studies, several future in vivo investigations need to be conducted in order to lead to its utilization as implantable tissue engineering material.
Maurizio Buggio, Marco Tatullo, Stefano Sivolella, Chiara Gardin, Letizia Ferroni, Eitan Mijiritsky, Adriano Piattelli, Barbara Zavan

Graphene: An Emerging Carbon Nanomaterial for Bone Tissue Engineering

The development of materials and strategies that can promote faster bone healing and improved regeneration of bony defects is of high interest. Graphene and its derivatives (graphene oxide and reduced graphene oxide) have remarkable mechanical properties, can be chemically modified and allow the attachment of molecules and proteins. Due to these characteristics, these carbon-based materials have received increasing attention for several biomedical applications. As graphenes can improve mechanical properties of several biomaterials, induce, and increase cell differentiation toward osteoblasts, they have emerged as interesting alternatives for to promote bone regeneration. Herein, the key achievements made with graphenes for bone tissue engineering are presented with particular emphasis on their combination with biomaterials for bone regeneration and as coatings for biomedical implants.
Nileshkumar Dubey, Fanny Esther Denise Decroix, Vinicius Rosa

Potentiality of Graphene-Based Materials for Neural Repair

The use and interest of graphene-based materials for neural repair is still in its infancy. In the last years, a more and more solid body of work is being published on the ability of these materials to create biocompatible and biofunctional substrates able to promote the in vitro growth of neural cells, often supporting enhanced neural differentiation of stem/progenitor cells. Although in vivo studies with these materials are rare, encouraging pioneer works in the brain and the spinal cord might impulse the research community to translate their potentiality from cell cultures to animal models, a closer scenario for their potential use in human healthcare in the future. In this chapter, we first describe some relevant generalities regarding the nervous tissue and approaches to accomplish neural repair. Then, we expose the literature published to date on the use of graphene-based materials for neural repair and neural-related applications and discuss their potentiality in the field.
María Teresa Portolés, María Concepción Serrano

Graphene-Based Smart Nanomaterials: Novel Opportunities for Biology and Neuroengineering

In the last three decades, nanotechnologies have so deeply integrated themselves with medicine, that a new term, “nanomedicine,” was specifically coined (Freitas in Nanomedicine, volume I: basic capabilities. Landes Bioscience, Georgetown, 1999, [110]) to indicate “the process of diagnosing, treating, and preventing disease and traumatic injury, relieving pain, and preserving and improving human health, using molecular tools and molecular knowledge of the human body. In short, nanomedicine is the application of nanotechnology to medicine.”
Antonina M. Monaco, Michele Giugliano

Stimulus Responsive Graphene Scaffolds for Tissue Engineering

Tissue engineering (TE) is an emerging area that aims to repair damaged tissues and organs by combining different scaffold materials with living cells. Recently, scientists started to engineer a new generation of nanocomposite scaffolds able to mimic biochemical and biophysical mechanisms to modulate the cellular responses promoting the restoration of tissue structure or function. Due to its unique electrical, topographical and chemical properties, graphene is a material that holds a great potential for TE, being already considered as one of the best candidates for accelerating and guiding stem cell differentiations. Although this is a promising field there are still some challenges to overcome, such as the efficient control of the differentiation of the stem cells, especially in graphene-based microenvironments. Hence, this chapter will review the existing research related to the ability of graphene and its derivatives (graphene oxide and reduced graphene oxide) to induce stem cell differentiation into diverse lineages when under the influence of electrical, mechanical, optical and topographic stimulations.
Sofia S. Almeida, André F. Girão, Gil Gonçalves, António Completo, P. A. A. P. Marques



Graphene Hybrid Architectures for Chemical Sensors

Graphene, one atom thick allotrope of carbon, has enabled researchers to a new era of exploration due to its unique properties. Graphene is considered to be mother of all carbon materials with excellent electrical, mechanical, optical, and thermal properties that made its use for various engineering applications. Graphene and graphene hybrids have proved over the last decade to be promising material for chemical sensors. High surface-to-volume ratio coupled with high conductivity enabled graphene-based sensors to perform well with high accuracy, high sensitivity and selectivity, low detection limits and long-term stability. To further enhance the properties of graphene, graphene-based hybrids have been synthesized for its use as transducing element in various chemical sensors such as gas and biosensors. These hybrids exhibit the synergistic benefit for both the material for fabrication of efficient sensors with enhanced performance. This chapter focuses on synthesis, characterization and applications of various graphene hybrids in chemical sensors.
Parikshit Sahatiya, Sushmee Badhulika

Antimicrobial Properties of Graphene Nanomaterials: Mechanisms and Applications

Nanotechnology opens new possibilities for the development of antimicrobial materials. Of particular interest are graphene-based nanomaterials, which possess unique antimicrobial properties and offer multiple routes for functionalization into advanced nanocomposite materials. In this chapter, we review the current state of knowledge regarding the fundamental aspects of the antimicrobial interactions of graphene and graphene-based materials. Then, an overview of the multiple graphene-based composite materials developed for antimicrobial applications is provided, with an analysis of the different chemical functionalization routes used to modify graphene and graphene oxide with biocidal compounds. An analysis of the potential of graphene-based nanomaterials in the development of novel antimicrobial surfaces and coatings is also conducted, with an emphasis on the field of membrane processes, where significant developments have been made. Finally, promising avenues for material development are identified and critical questions surrounding graphene-based nanomaterials are discussed, providing a guide for future development and application of antimicrobial graphene-based materials.
Adel Soroush, Douglas Rice, Md Saifur Rahaman, François Perreault

Toxicity and Environmental Applications of Graphene-Based Nanomaterials

Graphene can be found in pure form or as derivatives of graphene; both forms are known as graphene-based nanoparticles (GNPs). These derivatives of graphene include graphene oxide (GO), reduced GO, GNP–polymer nanocomposites, and GNP–metal hybrids. These modifications of graphene nanoparticles can lead to nanomaterials or nanocomposites with different and novel properties, such as antimicrobial, adsorbent, and catalytic properties. As antimicrobials, GNPs can be used in environmental and medical applications. In environmental application, as an antimicrobial, the particles of GNPs have shown to inactivate both pure cultures and wastewater microbial communities. When using the GNPs as coatings in medical devices or water treatment membranes, the surface inhibits microbial survival and biofilm growth. Aside from antimicrobial applications, GNPs have also been used as adsorbent; owing to their large surface area and presence of functional groups. These GNPs have the ability to remove both heavy metals and organic contaminants from water. In addition, GNPs can serve as semiconductors to increase the efficiencies of photocatalytic and electrocatalytic systems, which can be used to inactivate microorganisms and degrade organic chemicals in water. The many uses and applications of GNPs will inevitably lead to their way to the environment through manufacturing byproducts and wastes, as well as weathering of commercial products containing GNP-based nanomaterials. GNPs are bioactive and they can impact the environment. While GNPs might be extremely useful, we should find a middle ground between toxicity and applications to minimize risks to the ecosystem.
Enrico Tapire Nadres, Jingjing Fan, Debora Frigi Rodrigues
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