« Since I started my research in Strasbourg, I have been interested in different forms of carbon. I started with fullerene, before turning to carbon nanotubes and most recently, graphene. I also work with other types of two-dimensional materials.
The aim of my research is to use these materials as a way of binding therapeutic molecules. These combinations can be used for therapies and imaging. I’m also interested in their impact on health, their toxic effects, their future, and how they biodegrade. It is important to see what happens to them once they’ve been used. These materials should take molecules to a therapeutic target and shouldn’t have any side effects for the organism.
We are working on various applications, for example therapeutic uses to fight tumours, whereby carbon nanomaterials are coupled with medication and sent towards the tumour. These objects can be combined with imaging. Graphene and carbon nanotubes have fluorescent and photoluminescent properties that render them visible.
So, the therapy can be combined with imaging.
In our laboratory, we are also interested in autoimmune diseases and trying to modulate the effects of these illnesses. We are using carbon nanomaterials combined with molecules such as peptides in an attempt to modulate autoimmune diseases like systemic lupus erythematosus. We are working with colleagues in Manchester in the UK on setting up a combination of carbon nanomaterials charged with positive matter and nucleic acids. It is possible to combine these materials with small siRNA sequences. Then these conjugations are used to modulate certain brain diseases like strokes. The siRNAs block the RNAs that are involved in the protein expression responsible for strokes.
Carbon nanotubes can also be used in ultrasound, a study developed in collaboration with colleagues in Sassari (Italy). The material is injected into an organ or intravenously. Ultrasounds are sent to target organs and nanotubes present in the organ act as ultrasonic contrast agents and send back echoes. This imaging technique, commonly used in hospitals, can be developed with different types of contrast agent. Cytotoxic effects relating to their use are of course analysed. We try to understand these carbon-based objects as best we can to use them in imagery and for biomedical uses. »