Nanoparticles trigger cell death?

Nov 13, 2008

Nanoparticles that are one milliard of a metre in size are widely used, for example, in cosmetics and food packaging materials. There are also significant amounts of nanoparticles in exhaust emissions. However, very little is yet known of their health effects, because only a very small portion of research into nanoparticles is focused on their health and safety risks. Nanoparticles have even been dubbed the asbestos of the 2000s bys some researchers, and therefore a considerable threat to people's health. While the use of nanoparticles in consumer products increases, their follow-up procedures and legislation are lagging behind. The European Union chemicals directive REACH does not even touch upon nanomaterials.

The research teams of Professor Ilpo Vattulainen (Department of Physics, Tampere University of Technology, Finland) and academy researcher Emppu Salonen (Department of Applied Physics, Helsinki University of Technology, Finland) have together with Professor Pu-Chun Ke's (Clemson University, SC, USA) team researched how carbon-based nanoparticles interact with cells. The results provided strong biophysical evidence that nanoparticles may alter cell structure and pose health risks.

It emerged from the research that certain cell cultures are not affected when exposed to fullerenes, i.e. nano-sized molecules that consist of spherical, ellipsoid, or cylindrical arrangement of carbon atoms. Cells are also not affected when exposed to gallic acid, an organic acid that is found in almost all plants and, for instance, in tea. However, when fullerenes and gallic acid are present in the cell culture at the same time, they interact to form structures that bind to the cell surface and cause cell death.

The research demonstrates how difficult it is to map out the health effects of nanoparticles. Even if a certain nanoparticle does not appear toxic, the interaction between this nanoparticle and other compounds in the human body may cause serious problems to cell functions. Since the number of possible combinations of nanoparticles and various biomolecules is immense, it is practically impossible to research them systematically.

The research on cell death caused by fullerenes and gallic acid was recently published in the nanoscience journal Small [E. Salonen, S. Lin, M. L. Reid, M. Allegood, X. Wang, A. M. Rao, I. Vattulainen, P.-C. Ke. Real-time translocation of fullerene reveals cell contraction. Small 4, 1986-1992 (2008)].

Source: Tampere University of Technology

Explore further: New nanodevice defeats drug resistance

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Golden vehicle for drug delivery has hidden costs

Feb 18, 2015

One of the biggest ideas in treating disease involves material so small it isn't even visible. Miniscule gold particles – the size of several atoms – are being touted as vehicles to send drugs exactly ...

Nano-antioxidants prove their potential

Feb 09, 2015

Injectable nanoparticles that could protect an injured person from further damage due to oxidative stress have proven to be astoundingly effective in tests to study their mechanism.

Recommended for you

Electrons moving along defined snake states

1 hour ago

Physicists at the University of Basel have shown for the first time that electrons in graphene can be moved along a predefined path. This movement occurs entirely without loss and could provide a basis for ...

New nanodevice defeats drug resistance

18 hours ago

Chemotherapy often shrinks tumors at first, but as cancer cells become resistant to drug treatment, tumors can grow back. A new nanodevice developed by MIT researchers can help overcome that by first blocking ...

Glass coating improves battery performance

19 hours ago

Lithium-sulfur batteries have been a hot topic in battery research because of their ability to produce up to 10 times more energy than conventional batteries, which means they hold great promise for applications ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

albert
1 / 5 (1) Nov 13, 2008
Yes. Just keep adding nano to everything, you idiots. Let's kill the species called "human" and leave here for good. Every living thing must die anyway. Nano will make sure that ours is an invisible death.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.