Posted: August 8, 2007

Easing toxicity concerns about promising new nanoparticle imaging agent

(Nanowerk News) In a study that eases concern about the toxicity of nanoparticles being considered for use in medical imaging and biomedical research, scientists in North Dakota are reporting "no significant toxic effects" from tests of silica nanoparticles.  It is scheduled for the Aug. 20 issue of Chemical Research in Toxicology ("Toxicity of Luminescent Silica Nanoparticles to Living Cells").  
Min Wu and Julia Xiaojun Zhao and colleagues point out that scientists hope to use several kinds of nanomaterials that luminesce, or glow, in clinical medicine and biomedical research. Those materials might, for instance, become a new generation of imaging agents that pinpoint the location of diseased tissue in the body. "However, the question of whether these nanomaterials are toxic to living cells or organisms has not been fully answered," the researchers explain.  
The scientists used laboratory tests on human lung cells to show that luminescent silica nanoparticles did not damage cellular DNA. 
"Our study indicates that the luminescent silica nanoparticle is a promising labeling reagent for various biomedical applications," the study concluded, citing the need for further research on potential long-term toxicity.
Source: American Chemical Society