Theranostics 2022; 12(5):2290-2321. doi:10.7150/thno.69628 This issue


Versatile carbon nanoplatforms for cancer treatment and diagnosis: strategies, applications and future perspectives

Lu Tang1,2*, Jing Li1,2*, Ting Pan1,2, Yue Yin1,2, Yijun Mei1,2, Qiaqia Xiao1,2, Ruotong Wang1,2, Ziwei Yan1,2, Wei Wang1,2✉

1. State Key Laboratory of Natural Medicines, Department of Pharmaceutics, School of Pharmacy, China Pharmaceutical University, 210009 Nanjing, P. R. China
2. NMPA Key Laboratory for Research and Evaluation of Pharmaceutical Preparations and Excipients, China Pharmaceutical University, 210009 Nanjing, P. R. China
*These authors made equal contributions to this work

This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( See for full terms and conditions.
Tang L, Li J, Pan T, Yin Y, Mei Y, Xiao Q, Wang R, Yan Z, Wang W. Versatile carbon nanoplatforms for cancer treatment and diagnosis: strategies, applications and future perspectives. Theranostics 2022; 12(5):2290-2321. doi:10.7150/thno.69628. Available from

File import instruction


Graphic abstract

Despite the encouraging breakthroughs in medical development, cancer remains one of the principle causes of death and threatens human health around the world. Conventional treatment strategies often kill cancer cells at the expense of serious adverse effects or great pain, which yet is not able to achieve an effective cure. Therefore, it is urgent to seek for other novel anticancer approaches to improve the survival rate and life quality of cancer patients. During the past decades, nanotechnology has made tremendous progress in cancer therapy due to many advantages such as targeted drug delivery, decreased dosage-related adverse effects and prolonged drug circulation time. In the context of nanomedicine, carbon nanomaterials occupy very significant positions. Owing to their innate outstanding optical, thermal, electronic, and mechanic features, easy functionalization possibility and large surface for drug loading, carbon nanomaterials serve as not only drug carriers, but also multifunctional platforms to combine with diverse treatment and diagnosis modalities against cancer. Therefore, developing more carbon-based nanoplatforms plays a critical role in cancer theranostics and an update overview that summarizes the recent achievement of carbon nanomaterial-mediated anticancer theranostic approaches is of necessity. In this review, five typical and widely investigated carbon nanomaterials including graphene, graphdiyne, fullerene, carbon nanotubes and carbon quantum dots are introduced in detail from the aspect of treatment strategies based on both cancer cells and tumor microenvironment-involved therapeutic targets. Meanwhile, modern diagnostic methods and clinical translatability of carbon nanomaterials will be highlighted as well.

Keywords: Carbon materials, Cancer theranostics, Nanotechnology, Targeted drug delivery, Synergistic strategy