Near-infrared (NIR) photothermal therapy using biocompatible single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWNTs) is advantageous because as-produced SWNTs, without additional size control, both efficiently absorb NIR light and demonstrate high photothermal conversion efficiency. In addition, covalent attachment of receptor molecules to SWNTs can be used to specifically target infected cells. However, this technique interrupts SWNT optical properties and inevitably lowers photothermal conversion efficiency and thus remains major hurdle for SWNT applications. This paper presents a smart-targeting photothermal therapy platform for inflammatory disease using newly developed phenoxylated-dextran-functionalized SWNTs. Phenoxylated dextran is biocompatible and efficiently suspends SWNTs by noncovalent π–π stacking, thereby minimizing SWNT bundle formations and maintaining original SWNT optical properties. Furthermore, it selectively targets inflammatory macrophages by scavenger-receptor binding without any additional receptor molecules; therefore, its preparation is a simple one-step process. Herein, it is experimentally demonstrated that phenoxylated dextran-SWNTs (pD-SWNTs) are also biocompatible, selectively penetrate inflammatory macrophages over normal cells, and exhibit high photothermal conversion efficiency. Consequently, NIR laser-triggered macrophage treatment can be achieved with high accuracy by pD-SWNT without damaging receptor-free cells. These smart targeting materials can be a novel photothermal agent candidate for inflammatory disease.
A smart targeting photothermal therapy platform, based on phenoxylated-dextran-functionalized single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWNTs), is developed for treatment of inflammatory disease. Phenoxylated dextran efficiently suspends SWNTs by noncovalent π–π stacking and maintains original optical properties of SWNTs. This biocompatible nanoplatform is able to selectively target inflammatory cells over normal cells through the dextran-scavenger-receptor binding process, and induces efficient photothermal ablation of inflammatory macrophages.