Can Natural Human Enzyme Biodegrade Graphene?


The degradation of pristine graphene occurs in the human body when it interacts with a naturally occurring enzyme in the lungs, explained Graphene Flagship Partners; the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS), the University of Strasbourg, the Karolinska Institute and the University of Castilla-La Mancha (UCLM).

How does Graphene behave in the Body?

Graphene-based products, including flexible biomedical electronic devices, are being developed for connection to the human body within the Graphene Flagship. If graphene is to be used for such biomedical applications, it should be biodegradable and thus expelled from the body.

To test how graphene behaves in the body, Alberto Bianco and his team at Graphene Flagship partner CNRS conducted several tests to determine if and how graphene degraded by adding a common human enzyme. The enzyme myeloperoxidase (MPO) is a peroxide enzyme released by neutrophils, cells found in the lungs that are responsible for eliminating foreign bodies or bacteria that enter the body. When a foreign body or bacteria is detected within the body, neutrophils surround it and secrete MPO, destroying the threat.

Previous work by Graphene Flagship partners found that MPO biodegrades graphene oxide. However, the structure of non-functionalized graphene was thought to be more resistant to degradation. To verify this, Bianco and his team studied the effects of MPO ex vivo on two graphene forms: monolayer and multilayer.

Bianco says, “We used two forms of graphene – monolayer and bilayer, produced by two different methods in water. They were then taken and contacted with myeloperoxidase in the presence of hydrogen peroxide. This peroxidase was able to degrade and oxidize them that. This was not really expected because we thought non-functionalized graphene was more resistant than graphene oxide.”

Rajendra Kurapati, lead author of the study, from Graphene flagship partner CNRS, said, “The results emphasize that highly dispersible graphene could be degraded in the body by the action of neutrophils. This would open the new pathway for the development of graphene-based materials.”

In vivo testing is the next stage. Bengt Fadeel, professor at graphene flagship partner Karolinska Institute, says, “Understanding whether graphene is biodegradable or not is important for biomedical and other applications of this material. The fact that cells of the immune system can handle graphene is very promising.”

Prof. Maurizio Prato, leader of Work Package 4, said: “The enzymatic degradation of graphene is a very important issue because graphene dispersed in the atmosphere could in principle cause harm. If there are microorganisms that can degrade graphene Since these are materials that exist in the environment, the persistence of these materials in our environment is greatly reduced.

These types of studies are needed. It is also necessary to study the nature of degradation products. Once graphene is digested by enzymes, it could produce harmful derivatives need to know the structure of these derivatives and study their effects on health and environment. “

Prof. Andrea C. Ferrari, Science and Technology Officer of the Graphene Flagship and Chair of the Management Panel, added, “The report on a successful pathway for the degradation of graphene is a very important step forward to ensure the safe use of this material The Graphene Flagship has placed the study of graphene’s impact on health and the environment at the center of its program from the beginning. These results strengthen our innovation and technology roadmap. “