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Scientists advance safety of nanotechnology
Date:6/10/2009

was developed by German scientists in 1984. Nanomaterials are now used in a variety of products, including sporting goods, cosmetics and electronics. The fact that unusual physical, chemical, and biological properties can emerge in materials at the nanoscale makes them particularly appealing for medicine. Scientists hope nanoparticles will be able to improve the effectiveness of drugs and gene therapy by carrying them to the right place in the body and by targeting specific tissues, regulating the release of drugs and reducing damage to healthy tissues. They also envision the possibility of implantable nano devices that would detect disease, treat it and report to the doctor automatically from inside the body. The US Food and Drug Administration has approved some first generation nanodrugs. One example is Abraxane, a nanoformulation of the anti-cancer chemotherapy paclitaxel.

Lung damage is the chief human toxicity concern surrounding nanotechnology, with studies showing that most nanoparticles migrate to the lungs. However, there are also worries over the potential for damage to other organs.

In the study, the researchers first showed, through several independent experiments, that several types of PAMAMs killed human lung cells in the lab. They did not observe any evidence that the cells were dying by apoptosis, a common type of programmed cell death. However, they found that the particles triggered autophagic cell death through the Akt-TSC2-mTOR signalling pathway. Autophagy is a process that degrades damaged materials in a cell and plays a normal part in cell growth and renewal, but scientists have found that sometimes an overactivity of this destruction process leads to cell death.

The researchers also found that treating the cells with an autophagy inhibitor known as 3MA significantly inhibited the process, increasing the number of cells that survived exposure to the nanoparticles.


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Contact: Emma Ross
rosswrite@mac.com
Oxford University Press
Source:Eurekalert

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