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Nanomaterials in medicine - health risk or opportunity to cure more people?

Published: 22 October 2012

Professor Hans Åkerstedt at LTU is one of a few Swedish scientists studying the risks of using nanomaterials. Recently his research was presented in Milan to European researchers.

Nanoparticles may pose risks to human health and may even help to cure diseases through improved opportunities to manage medications to the area being treated. Research about the risks of nanomaterials is a relatively new area in which ​​Luleå University of Technology has conducted research since 2006. The advantage of nanoparticles in medicine is that particles can get deep into the body without getting stuck. This increases the chances of controlling medicine to the areas to be treated without affecting healthy areas. The size and pointy shape of nanoparticles may pose risks because it means that the particles can penetrate body tissues and cause damage.

– It requires great caution when adding nanotubes in different materials, Hans Åkerstedt says. We do not know the effects of particles on health and the environment. At Luleå Univeristy of Technology, we study how nanoparticles move and where they get stuck when they are inhaled into the lungs. In previous studies, we simulated what happens when particles are trapped in the upper part of the lung, and see if it involves risks, for example affecting the oxygen uptake negatively. Right now studies to identify how nanoparticles trapped in the cartilage rings in the upper part of the lung. In addition to increasing the accuracy of medications, our goal is to investigate the potential risks to humans.

A new test equipment will soon make it possible to carry out real experiments to verify what has been presented for the simulations of the particle motion. Using digital holography, researchers then have even greater opportunities to clarify nanoparticles movements of the body. The research is a collaboration with Umeå University and the Center for Biomedical Engineering and Physics, CMTF.

Source: LTU Review, No. 13, 2012