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Testing nanoparticles

Testing many nanoparticles at once may lead to a faster route to medical applications

7:01pm, May 12, 2008

Testing nanoparticles for toxic effects could become faster and cheaper with a new highly mechanized technique described online in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Several types of nanometer-sized particles are now approved for medical use, including magnetic nanoparticles to enhance contrast in imaging techniques such as MRI. Researchers are also experimenting with nanoparticles that could better target a drug to a specific part of the body, among other applications.

But nano-sized particles often interact in unpredictable ways with biological molecules and cells. Before a new medical product can be approved, it has to undergo lengthy and expensive trials, first in lab dishes and then in animals and humans, to test for possible toxic effects as well as efficacy.

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