Nanotechnology Now







Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button


DHgate

Home > Press > Nanophobic or Nanophilic?

Abstract:
One of the notable motifs of the work of the late US fiction author Michael Crichton was the cautionary tale of scientific inquisitiveness outstripping scientific caution. Be it dinosaurs, extraterrestrial bacteria, or outright extraterrestrials, curiosity most definitely ends up killing a number of scientific cats and usually wreaks untold havoc on an unwary public. Interestingly, one of Crichton's later novels, Prey, published in 2002, tapped into the little-known (at that time) field of nanotechnology. While avoiding the now-infamous ‘gray goo' scenario, the escape of autonomous swarms of nanorobots from research laboratories nonetheless makes for a chilling read.

Nanophobic or Nanophilic?

Germany | Posted on June 7th, 2011

Nanotechnology is, of course, nowhere so advanced as to be commercializing self-aware automatons, but good progress is being made, with developments and improvements to existing technologies and new applications, and ‘nano-something' becoming increasingly common as that special ingredient that will block the sun more effectively, keep your tie stain-free, or enhance your killer smash in tennis. Leaving aside for the moment that this is, in many cases, simply a rebranding exercise on science that has existed for decades, nano-something is rapidly becoming the defining technobabble of early 21st century gadgetry.

One of the fields of research in which carbon nanotubes in particular are envisaged to play a critical role is in treatment for conditions affecting the central nervous system (CNS). The CNS is a delicate and complex system that lacks the ability to self-repair in adult humans, meaning many diseases that affect it are difficult if not impossible to treat, and physical damage is equally challenging to repair. As CNTs are able to penetrate cell membranes, they can be internalized by neurons, and their hollow structure would enable the transport and effective targeting of drugs to treat many debilitating CNS conditions. However, the question of the inherent toxicity of CNTs, as well as of the processes and chemicals used to make them physiologically compatible (CNTs are naturally hydrophobic and insoluble, and must be coated or functionalized in order to impart solubility) remains an open and serious issue. With no governing or regulatory body acting for nanotechnology as a whole (analogous to the FDA for drug development), oversight and standardization of testing are lacking.

A recent essay on this topic by a noted team of nanoscience researchers in Trieste and Strasbourg highlights the complexity of these issues, reporting on research results that show widely varying responses of neural tissue response to CNTs, some of which conflict with one another. CNTs are shown to be both toxic and non-toxic, sometimes even when using the same functionalization procedures and solvents. The problem arises from the myriad methods in which CNTS can be manufactured, purified, functionalized and coated. One batch shows toxicity, another does not; at the least, one has to identify and eliminate the potential effects of synthesis method, CNT type (how many walls), CNT size (length and width) aggregation, contamination (perhaps metal left over from synthesis), and purity. And then we come to the processes for making the CNTs soluble: which solvents, covalent or noncovalent, which coating, what impact does the coating alone have, what concentration of solvents or surfactants? And then finally, the product itself - toxic or non-toxic? Does concentration matter? What does the dose-response curve look like?

Such uncertainty calls for scientific caution, argue the authors (and I agree entirely). Many factors are involved in the production of biocompatible CNTs, and all of them may influence the final behavior of the nanotubes. Establishing rigorous methods for the assessment of nanostructure toxicity including detailed physical and chemical characterization of the as-manufactured nanomaterials, control testing on all added ingredients, and standard procedures for measurement will be invaluable in ensuring that evaluations of the risks and benefits of nanotubes and other nanostructures for medical applications are accurate and consistent. As nanotechnology starts to filter its way into our waste disposal systems with its obsolete first generation of technology, the issue of hazardous waste will be another in which a thoughtful, standardized approach will be needed. Nanotechnology has the potential to save lives, but to do so, it first requires for itself a clean bill of health.

####

For more information, please click here

Copyright © Wiley-VCH Materials Science Journals

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 Links

L. Ballerini et al., Small ; DOI: 10.1002/smll.201000906

Related News Press

News and information

‘Oxford Instruments Young Nanoscientist India Award 2015’ to Prof. Arindam Ghosh April 20th, 2015

Nondestructive 3-D Imaging of Biological Cells with Sound April 20th, 2015

Advances in molecular electronics: Lights on -- molecule on: Researchers from Dresden and Konstanz succeed in light-controlled molecule switching April 20th, 2015

Yale-NUS, NUS and UT Austin researchers establish theoretical framework for graphene physics: Making strides towards using graphene to create new electronic devices April 20th, 2015

Nanotubes/Buckyballs/Fullerenes

SouthWest NanoTechnologies CEO Dave Arthur to Speak at NanoBCA DC Roundtable on May 19 in Washington DC April 20th, 2015

How to maximize the superconducting critical temperature in a molecular superconductor: International team led by Tohoku University opens new route for discovering high Tc superconductors April 19th, 2015

Nanotubes with two walls have singular qualities: Rice University lab calculates unique electronic qualities of double-walled carbon nanotubes April 16th, 2015

MIT sensor detects spoiled meat: Tiny device could be incorporated into 'smart packaging' to improve food safety April 15th, 2015

Nanomedicine

‘Oxford Instruments Young Nanoscientist India Award 2015’ to Prof. Arindam Ghosh April 20th, 2015

Iranian Female Professor Awarded UNESCO Medal in Nanoscience April 20th, 2015

Happily ever after: Scientists arrange protein-nanoparticle marriage: New biotech method could lead to development of HIV vaccine, targeted cancer treatment April 20th, 2015

Optical resonance-based biosensors designed for medical applications April 18th, 2015

Announcements

Happily ever after: Scientists arrange protein-nanoparticle marriage: New biotech method could lead to development of HIV vaccine, targeted cancer treatment April 20th, 2015

Nondestructive 3-D Imaging of Biological Cells with Sound April 20th, 2015

Advances in molecular electronics: Lights on -- molecule on: Researchers from Dresden and Konstanz succeed in light-controlled molecule switching April 20th, 2015

Yale-NUS, NUS and UT Austin researchers establish theoretical framework for graphene physics: Making strides towards using graphene to create new electronic devices April 20th, 2015

Safety-Nanoparticles/Risk management

MIPT researchers put safety of magic anti-cancer bullet to test April 6th, 2015

NNI Publishes Workshop Report Assessing the Status of EHS Risk Science: Report examines progress three years after the release of the 2011 NNI EHS Research Strategy March 23rd, 2015

Are current water treatment methods sufficient to remove harmful engineered nanoparticle? March 10th, 2015

More study needed to clarify impact of cellulose nanocrystals on health: Few studies explore toxicity of cellulose nanocrystals March 10th, 2015

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




  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoTech-Transfer
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More










ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project