The method is currently in the early stages of development and is likely to have a number of applications, including the personal care and cosmetics industry, as well as the pharmaceutical industry.
The research work could help to develop more effective and targeted nanotechnology-based ingredients for personal care products, as well as ensuring that the nanoparticles are not hazardous to humans.
The project is being led by three scientists at the university – Dr. Him Riviered, director of the university’s Center for Chemical Toxicology Research and Pharmacokinetics, Dr. Nancay Monteiro-Riviere, professor of investigative dermatology and toxicology and Dr. Xin-Rui Xia, research assistant professor of pharmacology.
Pinpointing nanoparticle interaction with the human body
The research is still in the early stages of establishing a screening tool that would allow other scientists to determine how specific nanotechnologies might react with biological systems such as the human body.
“We wanted to find a good, biologically relevant way to determine how nanomaterials react with cells,” Riviere said.
“When a nanomaterial enters the human body, it immediately binds to various proteins and amino acids. The molecules a particle binds with determine where it will go.”
The scientists have chosen to focus on this binding process as a means of establishing how the nanoparticle changes its shape and surface properties to determine how it affects toxicity, or delivery capabilities.
Determining the nanoparticle fingerprint
The screening tool relies on the use of a series of chemicals to probe the surfaces of specific nanoparticles, a process that helps to determine the size and specific characteristics. In turn this information helps to establish the ‘fingerprint’ for the nanoparticle, giving a clearer picture of how it might interact with biological molecules.
More detailed result findings will be published in the August 23 online edition of the journal Nature Nanotechnology.
“This information will allow us to predict where a particular nanomaterial will end up in the human body, and whether or not it will be taken up by certain cells,” said Riviere.
In cosmetics and personal care formulations nanotechnology has already been incorporated into a number of active ingredients, mainly as a means of enhancing the delivery and ultimately the efficacy.
The technology has proved popular in sunscreen products, where it has been used to develop enhanced titanium dioxide UV filters, as well as providing enhanced delivery of active ingredients in anti-aging skin care products as well as hair care products.