Diatoms with invaluable applications in nanotechnology, biotechnology, and biomedicine: recent advances

Navid Rabiee, Mehrdad Khatami, Ghazaleh Jamalipour Soufi, Yousef Fatahi, Siavash Iravani*, Rajender S. Varma

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

61 Citations (Scopus)


Diatoms are unicellular microalga found in soil and almost every aquatic environment (marine and fresh water). Biogenic silica and diatoms are attractive for biotechnological and industrial applications, especially in the field of biomedicine, industrial/synthetic manufacturing processes, and biomedical/pharmaceutical sciences. Deposition of silica by diatoms allows them to create micro- or nanoscale structures which may be utilized in nanomedicine and especially in drug/gene delivery. Diatoms with their unique architectures, good thermal stability, suitable surface area, simple chemical functionalization/modification procedures, ease of genetic manipulations, optical/photonic characteristics, mechanical resistance, and eco-friendliness, can be utilized as smart delivery platforms. The micro- to nanoscale properties of the diatom frustules have garnered a great deal of attention for their application in diverse areas of nanotechnology and biotechnology, such as bioimaging/biosensing, biosensors, drug/gene delivery, photodynamic therapy, microfluidics, biophotonics, solar cells, and molecular filtrations. Additionally, the genetically engineered diatom microalgae-derived nanoporous biosilica have enabled the targeted anticancer drug delivery to neuroblastoma and B-lymphoma cells as well as the mouse xenograft model of neuroblastoma. In this perspective, current trends and recent advances related to the applications of diatoms for the synthesis of nanoparticles, gene/drug delivery, biosensing determinations, biofuel production, and remediation of heavy metals are deliberated, including the underlying significant challenges and future perspectives.

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3053-3068
Number of pages16
JournalACS Biomaterials Science and Engineering
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 12 Jul 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • diatoms
  • biosilica
  • drug delivery
  • nanoparticle synthesis
  • frustules
  • biomedical applications


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  • Novel nanocarriers for drug delivery applications

    Rabiee, N., Ghadiri, A. M., Safarkhani, M., Fatahi, Y., Kiani, M., Ahmadi, S., Mozafari, M., Saeb, M. R., Makvandi, P., Hamblin, M. R., Varma, R. S., Rabiee, M., Mostafavi, E., Zarrintaj, P., Hamed Mashhadzadeh, A., Tahriri, M., Tayebi, L. & Shokouhimehr, M.

    10/09/18 → …

    Project: Research

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