This research work represents the first major step towards constructing an effective therapeutic silibinin (SB) in cancer treatment using oxidised multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWCNT-COOH) functionalised with biocompatible polymers as the potential drug carrier. In an attempt to increase the solubility and dispersibility of SB-loaded nanotubes (MWSB), four water-soluble polymers were adopted in the preparation process, namely polysorbate 20 (T20), polysorbate 80 (T80), polyethylene glycol (PEG) and chitosan (CHI). From the geometry point of view, the hydrophobic regions of the nanotubes were loaded with water-insoluble SB while the hydrophilic polymers functionalised on the outer surfaces of the nanotubes serve as a protective shell to the external environment. The chemical interaction between MWSB nanocomposites and polymer molecules was confirmed by Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) and Raman spectroscopy. Besides, high-resolution transmission electron microscopy (HR-TEM), field emission scanning electron microscopy (FESEM), thermogravimetric analysis (TGA) and UV-visible spectrophotometry were also employed to characterise the synthesised nanocomposites. The morphological study indicated that the polymers were deposited on the external surfaces of MWSB and the nanocomposites were seen to preserve their tubular structures even after the coating process was applied. The TGA results revealed that the incorporation of biopolymers practically improved the overall thermal stability of the coated MWSB nanocomposites. Evaluation of the in vitro effect on drug release rate by the nanocomposites was found to follow a biphasic release manner, showing a fast release at an initial stage and then a sustained-release over 2500 min. Besides, the drug release mechanisms of the nanocomposites demonstrated that the amount of SB released in the simulated environment was governed by pseudo-second order in which, the rate-limiting step mainly depends on diffusion of drug through chemisorption reaction. Finally, MTT assay showed that the coated MWSB nanocomposites on 3T3 cells were very much biocompatible at a concentration up to 100 g/mL, which is an evidence of MWSB reduced cytotoxicity.
* Title and MeSH Headings from MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.