A new research has called for measures to enable safe design of nanomaterials because of the increased likelihood of people coming into direct contact with these materials in recent times.
The recent explosion in the development of nanomaterials with enhanced performance characteristics for use in commercial and medical applications has increased the chances of people coming into direct contact with these materials.
There are currently more than 800 products on the market, including clothes, skin lotions and cleaning products, claiming to have at least one nanocomponent, and therapeutic nanocarriers have been designed for targeted drug delivery inside the human body.
Human exposure to nanomaterials, which are smaller than one one-thousandth the diameter of a human hair, raises some important questions, including whether these "nano-bio" interactions could have adverse health effects.
Now, researchers at UCLA and the California NanoSystems Institute (CNSI), along with colleagues in academia and industry, have taken a proactive role in examining the current understanding of the nano-bio interface to identify the potential risks of engineered nanomaterials and to explore design methods that will lead to safer and more effective nanoparticles for use in a variety of treatments and products.
In a research review, the team provides a comprehensive overview of current knowledge on the physical and chemical properties of nanomaterials that allow them to undergo interactions with biological molecules and bioprocesses.
"What we have established here is a blueprint that will serve to educate the first generation of nanobiologists," said Dr. Andre Nel, leader of the team.
The review article examines the variety of ways in which nanomaterials interface with biological systems and presents a roadmap of the physical and chemical properties of the materials that could lead to potentially hazardous or advantageous interactions at the nano-bio interface.
A better understanding of the biological impact, combined with appropriate stewardship, will allow for more informed decisions about design features for the safe use of nanotechnology.
"We are committed to ensuring that nanotechnology is introduced and implemented in a responsible and safe manner," said Nel.
"Based on our rapidly improving understanding of nano-bio interactions, we have done a thorough examination of the literature and our own research progress to identify measures that could be taken for safe design of nanomaterials," he added.
"Not only will this improve the implementation and acceptance of this technology, but it will also provide the cornerstone of developing new and improved nanoscale therapeutic devices, such as drug-delivering nanoparticles," he explained.