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Nanoparticles offer hope for common skin allergy
Date:4/3/2011

Boston, MA - Tiny particles only billionths of a meter in diameterabout two thousand would fit across the width of a human haircould offer big hope in a small package to the many millions of people who are allergic to the nickel in everything from jewelry to coins and cell phones, say scientists at Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH).

In the April 3 online issue of Nature Nanotechnology, the team will report a new approach to preventing the common skin allergy.

Approximately ten to fifteen percent of the US population, or over 30 to 45 million people, plus many more worldwide, are allergic to the nickel found in many everyday objects. For these people the metal causes a red, itchy rash when it comes into contact with their skin. You can see many examples through a quick google search for nickel-induced dermatitis.

However, even though some countries regulate the amount of the metal in certain products to limit exposure, there is no good solution to the problem. "There have been approaches to developing creams with agents that bind the nickel before it can penetrate the skin, but these are not effective in most patients and can even be toxic when the agents themselves penetrate the skin, as most do," says Jeffrey Karp, leader of the work and co-director of the Center for Regenerative Therapeutics at BWH. He adds, "People also sometimes coat their jewelry with nail polish to create a barrier between the skin and nickel ions, but this won't prevent all exposures, such as handling coins or wearing a watch."

Karp, who also holds appointments through Harvard Medical School, Harvard Stem Cell Institute (HSCI), and the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology (HST), is himself allergic to nickel.

Now he and colleagues including R. Rox Anderson, a dermatologist at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital, have found that nanoparticles containing calcium could offer a safe solution to the p
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Contact: Holly Brown-Ayers
hbrown-ayers@partners.org
617-534-1603
Brigham and Women's Hospital
Source:Eurekalert  

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