[To follow up the hit piece, Regulated or Not, Nano-Foods Coming to a Store Near You, we present this pros and cons piece on nanotechnology. ~Ed.]
By Elizabeth Bahm
Medill Reports – Chicago, Northwestern University
Researchers at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico originally set out to study the interactions of carbon fullerenes – soccer-ball shaped molecules more commonly known as “buckyballs” – and cell membranes, said Rashi Iyer, a toxicologist at Los Alamos and principal research lead on the study, which was recently published in the journal Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology. As research progressed, she said that she and her colleagues began to observe an unexpected reaction that could either be dangerous or desirable.
Researchers found that exposure to a certain type of fullerene known as the “tris” configuration, referring to a certain configuration of molecular branches on the nanoparticle, produced a toxic reaction in human tissue.
Iyer said that cells from skin and lungs were among those studied, since those would be likely points of exposure to nanoparticles. Cells exposed to the tris fullerenes went into a state that could be described as suspended animation, she said. Cells’ normal life cycle halted, meaning that they stopped growing, dividing and dying.
Typically, this effect would pose a risk to human organs by inhibiting normal development or immune responses. The same effect could also delay the onset of degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s or prevent the spread of cancerous cells, giving doctors more time to treat abnormal cells, said the press release.
Read full post at Medill Reports
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