Nanotechnology Project

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Environment, Health and Safety Research

Understanding Transport and Association of Nanoparticles in Biological Systems

Project Information

Principal InvestigatorBernie Kraatz
InstitutionUniversity of Saskatchewan
Project URLView
Relevance to ImplicationsHigh
Class of NanomaterialEngineered Nanomaterials
Impact SectorHuman Health
Broad Research Categories Generation, Dispersion, Transformation etc.
NNI identifier

Funding Information

Anticipated Total Funding$86,883.00
Annual Funding$43,441.50
Funding SourceNSERC
Funding MechanismExtramural
Funding SectorGovernment
Start Year2005
Anticipated End Year2007


Over the past ten years, nanomaterials have attracted a great amount of interest for biological applications ranging from the use of quantum dots for labeling live cells and in vivo imaging to the development of improved transparent sunscreens containing zinc oxide nanoparticles which block harmful UV light while minimizing scattering of visible light. However, little is known about the physicochemical properties of nanoparticles in living systems, particularly for nanoparticles below 25 nm in size. The lack of research into the physicochemical properties of such particles is particularly worrisome for several reasons; diseases such as silicosis, asbestosis and “black lung” have been associated with the interaction of small particles with cells and tissues and many nanoparticles are principally based on heavy metals that are known to be extremely toxic. There have already been numerous documented examples of water-soluble Au nanoparticles that can be transported across cell membranes and be taken up into the cell interior. The objective of this research project is to evaluate possible interactions of nanoparticles with biomolecules in readily manageable model systems. For this purpose, we will address two key issues experimentally: a) the transport of nanoparticles through lipid membranes and b) the interaction of nanoparticles with biomolecules. Our research team has expertise in the fields of nanoparticle synthesis (Scott), surface chemistry and characterization (Kraatz) and ultra-sensitive detection methods (Paige).