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Posted: September 10, 2007
University of Oregon gets grant to study nanotechnology safety
(Nanowerk News) The University of Oregon has been awarded a $1.6 million grant to determine the effects of tiny engineered structures on animal tissue.
The three-year grant was awarded to five researchers at UO and one at Oregon State University by the W.M. Keck Foundation's medical research program.
All six are members of the Safer Nanomaterials and Nanomanufacturing Initiative, directed by Jim Hutchison, a professor of chemistry at UO and one of the six researchers who will participate in the grant-funded work. The Safer Nanomaterials group is part of Oregon Nanoscience and Microtechnologies Institute, a collaborative institute that includes both UO and OSU.
As the new field of nanoscience develops, researchers have been raising questions about the implications of nano-scale materials for human and animal health, agriculture and life systems in general.
Hutchison and a team of researchers have developed gold nanoparticles using a patented method for "green" chemistry - that is, chemical manufacturing processes that avoid toxic byproducts. That library of nanoparticles will serve as a basis for the three year study that will look at the effects of lab-manufactured nanomaterials on zebrafish.
The study will look for both toxic and therapeutic effects on the zebrafish. One important area of nanoscience and nanotechnology is looking at how drugs and other therapeutics can be targeted to very specific areas of the body, leaving other areas unaffected. Success in this area could help improve cancer therapies that now have destructive effects on healthy tissue while destroying cancerous cells.