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

"Those results, taken together, showed that autophagy plays a critical role in the nanoparticle-induced cell death," said Dr. Jiang.

The scientists then tested their findings in mice. They found that introducing the toxic nanoparticles significantly increased lung inflammation and death rates in the mice, but injecting the mice with the autophagy inhibitor 3MA before introducing the nanoparticles significantly ameliorated the lung damage and improved survival rates.

"These experiments indicate that autophagy is indeed involved in lung damage caused by these nanoparticles and that inhibition of this process might have therapeutic effects," Dr. Jiang said. "We will likely need to look for additional new inhibitors to block lung damage as this particular compound is not stable in humans, but this gives us a promising lead for the first time."

"Our study has identified the principle for developing such compounds. The idea is that, to increase the safety of nanomedicine, compounds could be developed that could either be incorporated into the nano product to protect against lung damage, or patients could be given pills to counteract the effects," Dr. Jiang said, adding that the findings could also provide important insight into how nanopaticles cause other toxic effects.

It is not clear whether other types of nanoparticles would cause lung damage via the same mechanism, but some may, Dr. Jiang said. The group's research also suggests that blocking autophagic cell death could perhaps be useful in combating other causes of lung damage.


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

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