Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors

Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button

Home > Press > New study shows possibilities and dangers of nanotechnology

Los Alamos National Laboratory toxicologist Jun Gao, a co-author in the study, works in his laboratory. Courtesy of Los Alamos National Laboratory.
Los Alamos National Laboratory toxicologist Jun Gao, a co-author in the study, works in his laboratory. Courtesy of Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Abstract:
A tiny change in a tiny particle can mean the difference between treatment and toxicity, federal researchers found in the first observations of its kind.

By Elizabeth Bahm

New study shows possibilities and dangers of nanotechnology

Chicago, IL | Posted on April 12th, 2010

Researchers at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico originally set out to study the interactions of carbon fullerenes - soccer-ball shaped molecules more commonly known as "buckyballs" - and cell membranes, said Rashi Iyer, a toxicologist at Los Alamos and principal research lead on the study, which was recently published in the journal Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology. As research progressed, she said that she and her colleagues began to observe an unexpected reaction that could either be dangerous or desirable.

Researchers found that exposure to a certain type of fullerene known as the "tris" configuration, referring to a certain configuration of molecular branches on the nanoparticle, produced a toxic reaction in human tissue.

Iyer said that cells from skin and lungs were among those studied, since those would be likely points of exposure to nanoparticles. Cells exposed to the tris fullerenes went into a state that could be described as suspended animation, she said. Cells' normal life cycle halted, meaning that they stopped growing, dividing and dying.

Typically, this effect would pose a risk to human organs by inhibiting normal development or immune responses. The same effect could also delay the onset of degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's or prevent the spread of cancerous cells, giving doctors more time to treat abnormal cells, said the press release.

Iyer noted that the discovery of the senescence effect highlighted the importance of identifying health risks as nanoscience continues to develop. Studies like this can "guide material science," she said, demonstrating, in this case, that application matters when dealing with particles that may have a toxic potential. In a targeted scenario, this particle could lead to new medical treatments. If it had been inadvertently employed in a commercial product, there could be a health crisis.

Currently, nanomaterials face few federal regulations. Lynn Bergeson, a Washington, D.C. lawyer who counsels companies on nanotechnology innovation, said that it is a misconception that there are no regulations - while no laws address nanotechnology alone, many nanomaterials do fall under broader rules such as sections of the Environmental Protection Agency's Toxic Substances Control Act. "The EPA is doing a ton of work on nanoscale materials," said Bergeson, and there are several new rules on the horizon.

Iyer said that she thinks that regulations have been slow to appear because agencies "don't want to press the panic button" on a growing field with the potential to address many day-to-day problems.

"[Nanomaterials] need to be exploited for what they can offer us," said Iyer, "but we need to be cautious."

To that end, she said that her future research will entail efforts to broadly classify nanomaterials and assess their risks. With researchers in 40 countries creating new nanoparticles every day, she said that it would be difficult to assess each particle individually. By using physical and chemical characteristics to classify particles, scientists will be able to better predict responses to particles and the effects of modifying them.

Bergeson said that regulatory agencies face "a steep learning curve" in assessing the risks and benefits of nanotechnology. "The EPA is doing, I think, a very good job in obtaining information," she said, adding that there is a "steady increase in the sophistication and work devoted by regulatory agencies" to nanomaterials.

Establishing standards, said Iyer, "should be the universal effort" in nanomaterials research.

####

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Chicago Newsroom
105 W. Adams St., Suite 200 Chicago, IL 60603

News Desk
(312) 503-4100
(312) 503-4200
(312) 503-4040 (Fax)

Copyright © Northwestern University

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related News Press

News and information

Halas wins American Chemical Society Award in Colloid Chemistry: Rice University nanophotonics pioneer honored for colloid research September 18th, 2018

Leti & EFI Aim to Dramatically Improve Reliability & Speed of Low-Cost Electronic Devices for Autos: Project Will Extend Model Predictive Control Technique to Microcontrollers, Digital Signal Processors and Other Devices that Lack Powerful Computation Capabilities September 18th, 2018

Researchers managed to prevent the disappearing of quantum information September 14th, 2018

Tiny camera lens may help link quantum computers to network September 14th, 2018

Preparing for Nano

How nanoscience will improve our health and lives in the coming years: Targeted medicine deliveries and increased energy efficiency are just two of many ways October 26th, 2016

Searching for a nanotech self-organizing principle May 1st, 2016

Nanotechnology is changing everything from medicine to self-healing buildings: Nanotechnology is so small it's measured in billionths of metres, and it is revolutionising every aspect of our lives April 2nd, 2016

Durnham University's DEEPEN project comes to a close September 26th, 2012

Govt.-Legislation/Regulation/Funding/Policy

Researchers managed to prevent the disappearing of quantum information September 14th, 2018

New photonic chip promises more robust quantum computers September 14th, 2018

Could a demon help to create a quantum computer? Physicists implement a version of Maxwell's famous thought experiment for reducing entropy September 5th, 2018

Ultracold atoms used to verify 1963 prediction about 1D electrons: Rice University, University of Geneva study focuses on theory that's increasingly relevant to chipmakers September 5th, 2018

Academic/Education

The Institute of Applied Physics at the University of Tsukuba near Tokyo in Japan uses Deben's ARM2 detector to better understand catalytic reaction mechanisms June 27th, 2018

Powering the 21st Century with Integrated Photonics: UCSB-Led Team Selected for Demonstration of a Novel Waveguide Platform Which is Transparent Throughout the MWIR and LWIR Spectral Bands June 19th, 2018

SUNY Poly Professor Eric Lifshin Selected for ‘Fellow of the Microanalysis Society’ Position for Significant Contributions to Microanalysis June 13th, 2018

Grand Opening of UC Irvine Materials Research Institute (IMRI) to Spotlight JEOL Center for Nanoscale Solutions: Renowned Materials Scientists to Present at the 1st International Symposium on Advanced Microscopy and Spectroscopy (ISAMS) April 18th, 2018

Nanotubes/Buckyballs/Fullerenes/Nanorods

Carbon nanodots do an ultrafine job with in vitro lung tissue: New experiments highlight the role of charge and size when it comes to carbon nanodots that mimic the effect of nanoscale pollution particles on the human lung. September 12th, 2018

Graphene nanotubes outperform ammonium salts and carbon black in PU applications September 11th, 2018

S, N co-doped carbon nanotube-encapsulated CoS2@Co: Efficient and stable catalysts for water splitting September 10th, 2018

Peering into private life of atomic clusters -- using the world's tiniest test tubes September 6th, 2018

Materials/Metamaterials

How a tetrahedral substance can be more symmetrical than a spherical atom: A new type of symmetry September 14th, 2018

Peering into private life of atomic clusters -- using the world's tiniest test tubes September 6th, 2018

Cannibalistic materials feed on themselves to grow new nanostructures September 1st, 2018

Environmentally friendly photoluminescent nanoparticles for more vivid display colors: Osaka University-led researchers created a new type of light-emitting nanoparticle that is made of ternary non-toxic semiconductors to help create displays and LED lighting with better colors t August 29th, 2018

Announcements

Halas wins American Chemical Society Award in Colloid Chemistry: Rice University nanophotonics pioneer honored for colloid research September 18th, 2018

Leti & EFI Aim to Dramatically Improve Reliability & Speed of Low-Cost Electronic Devices for Autos: Project Will Extend Model Predictive Control Technique to Microcontrollers, Digital Signal Processors and Other Devices that Lack Powerful Computation Capabilities September 18th, 2018

New devices based on rust could reduce excess heat in computers: Physicists explore long-distance information transmission in antiferromagnetic iron oxide September 14th, 2018

New photonic chip promises more robust quantum computers September 14th, 2018

Safety-Nanoparticles/Risk management

Carbon nanodots do an ultrafine job with in vitro lung tissue: New experiments highlight the role of charge and size when it comes to carbon nanodots that mimic the effect of nanoscale pollution particles on the human lung. September 12th, 2018

A human enzyme can biodegrade graphene August 28th, 2018

Nanoscience and the future of healthcare kick off first day of ACS national meeting in Boston: Presidential events highlight safety, diversity and groundbreaking research August 2nd, 2018

FEFU scientists reported on toxicity of carbon and silicon nanotubes and carbon nanofibers: Nanoparticles with a wide range of applying, including medicine, damage cells of microalgae Heterosigma akashivo badly. July 18th, 2018

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE



  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More











ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project