Nanoparticles may pose threat to liver cells, say scientists

April 4, 2006

Researchers at the University of Edinburgh are to study the effects of nanoparticles on the liver. In a UK first, the scientists will assess whether nanoparticles –already found in pollution from traffic exhaust, but also used in making household goods such as paint, sunblock, food, cosmetics and clothes– can cause damage to the cells of the liver.

Nanoparticles are atoms and molecules 80,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair, with various properties according to their composition, which explains their widespread usage. Airborne nanoparticles present in traffic exhaust are already known to enter the lungs and affect human health.

Scientist Dr Celine Filippi explains: "In experiments carried out elsewhere to mimic environmental exposure, nanoparticles delivered into the lungs crossed the lung barrier and entered the blood. Particles in the blood can reach the liver, amongst other organs. We also know that nanoparticles directly injected into the blood for medical purposes are also likely to end up in the liver.

"We don't yet know if the nanoparticles are safely eliminated from the liver by specialised cells or whether these extremely small particles can enter the liver cells and disrupt their normal functioning. Our research will try to establish whether nanoparticles, which are set to be used increasingly in industry and the manufacture of household goods, can damage the cells of the liver."

Professor Ken Donaldson, Professor of Respiratory Toxicology at the University of Edinburgh said: "We are looking at the new idea that the liver is a target for nanoparticles, and a lot more work needs to be done to assess the levels and impact of nanoparticles reaching the liver."

Source: University of Edinburgh

Explore further: CRISPR-carrying nanoparticles edit the genome

Related Stories

CRISPR-carrying nanoparticles edit the genome

November 13, 2017

In a new study, MIT researchers have developed nanoparticles that can deliver the CRISPR genome-editing system and specifically modify genes in mice. The team used nanoparticles to carry the CRISPR components, eliminating ...

Nanoshells could deliver more chemo with fewer side effects

November 8, 2017

Researchers investigating ways to deliver high doses of cancer-killing drugs inside tumors have shown they can use a laser and light-activated gold nanoparticles to remotely trigger the release of approved cancer drugs inside ...

Recommended for you

How the Earth stops high-energy neutrinos in their tracks

November 22, 2017

Neutrinos are abundant subatomic particles that are famous for passing through anything and everything, only very rarely interacting with matter. About 100 trillion neutrinos pass through your body every second. Now, scientists ...

Mysterious deep-Earth seismic signature explained

November 22, 2017

New research on oxygen and iron chemistry under the extreme conditions found deep inside the Earth could explain a longstanding seismic mystery called ultralow velocity zones. Published in Nature, the findings could have ...

Quantum internet goes hybrid

November 22, 2017

In a recent study published in Nature, ICFO researchers led by ICREA Prof. Hugues de Riedmatten report an elementary "hybrid" quantum network link and demonstrate photonic quantum communication between two distinct quantum ...

Lightning, with a chance of antimatter

November 22, 2017

A storm system approaches: the sky darkens, and the low rumble of thunder echoes from the horizon. Then without warning... Flash! Crash!—lightning has struck.

0 comments

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.