Affiliation: College of Pharmacy and Research Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Seoul National University, Daehak-dong, Gwanak-gu, Seoul 151-742, Republic of Korea.
Graphene-based nanosheets (GNS) are atomic-thickness monolayers of hexagonally arranged, graphite-derived carbon atoms that may be composed of graphene, graphene oxide, or reduced graphene oxide. They have attracted tremendous interest for their potential in pharmaceutical applications, due to their unique physical, chemical, and mechanical properties GNS exhibit highly uniform surface areas and may have hydroxyl (-OH), epoxide (-O-), and carboxyl functional groups at their basal surfaces and plane edges, depending on their oxidized and reduced surface properties. GNS show high-level optical absorption of near infrared (NIR) light and elevate the temperature of nearby environments. Furthermore, they can be loaded with anticancer drugs via hydrophobic interactions, π−π stacking, or electrostatic binding. Given these properties, GNS can be used in chemotherapy, photodynamic therapy, photothermal therapy, and theranostics. However, although GNS appear to have far-reaching potential in the field of biomedical research, their widespread pharmaceutical application has been limited by issues such as poor stability in physiological buffers, undefined mechanisms of cellular uptake, toxicity problems, and a lack of standard preparation methods. Here, we review the current pharmaceutical applications of GNS, focusing on chemotherapy, phototherapy, combo therapy and theranostic applications with challenging issues.