Nano in the brain: Is it safe?

A field that is developing alongside nanobiotechnology is something that you might call nanotoxicology. There is a fear that the same properties that make nanosize particles potentially helpful in fields like drug delivery might also make them harmful. For example, nanoparticles--because of their size--promise to finally break through the body's defensive blood-brain barrier and deliver therapeutics directly to the brain. However, researchers--and, increasingly, government regulators -- are concerned that not enough is known about possible unintended consequences of nanoparticles swirling around up there. A group of researchers, writing in the European Journal of Pharmaceutics and Biopharmaceutics, is proposing a method of setting up a cell model of the blood-brain barrier to use as a tool for screening nanoparticles' interactions. Establishing a model is a first step in determining that ever-present question in nanotech: "Is it safe?" Abstract

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