Carbon-based antiviral nanomaterials: graphene, C-dots, and fullerenes. A perspective
The appearance of new and lethal viruses and their potential threat urgently requires innovative antiviral systems. In addition to the most common and proven pharmacological methods, nanomaterials can represent alternative resources to fight viruses at different stages of infection, by selective action or in a broad spectrum. A fundamental requirement is non-toxicity. However, biocompatible nanomaterials have very often little or no antiviral activity, preventing their practical use. Carbon-based nanomaterials have displayed encouraging results and can present the required mix of biocompatibility and antiviral properties. In the present review, the main candidates for future carbon nanometric antiviral systems, namely graphene, carbon dots and fullerenes, have been critically analysed. In general, different carbon nanostructures allow several strategies to be applied. Some of the materials have peculiar antiviral properties, such as singlet oxygen emission, or the capacity to interfere with virus enzymes. In other cases, nanomaterials have been used as a platform for functional molecules able to capture and inhibit viral activity. The use of carbon-based biocompatible nanomaterials as antivirals is still an almost unexplored field, while the published results show promising prospects.