Nanotechnology Project

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Environment, Health and Safety Research

Interactions Between Nanoscale Materials and Blood

Project Information

Principal InvestigatorJillian Buriak
InstitutionUniversity of Alberta and NINT
Project URLView
Relevance to ImplicationsHigh
Class of NanomaterialEngineered Nanomaterials
Impact SectorHuman Health
Broad Research Categories Hazard
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


Nanotechnology is now one of the most highly funded scientific and engineering disciplines globally, with thousands of academic and industrial laboratories synthesizing and characterizing new, often unprecedented, high surface area nanoscale materials. Much of the fascination with nanoscience lies in the fact that materials with dimensions on the scale of 1-100 nm are of the size of the basic cellular machinery of life. While a great deal of research into nanoscale materials is being funded in these areas with exciting new developments, little is known about their properties within an organism or, on an even larger scale, within an ecosystem. A few scattered reports suggest that nanoparticles may have toxicity effects, but thus far, there is little understanding as to the mechanism of action or the longevity of these materials in the organism. As nanomaterials are produced and commercialized, it is probable, and even inevitable that they will enter the environment. In addition, many new nanomedicine applications utlize nanoparticles as therapeutic agents, to detect, and treat disease, for gene therapy, and others. It is thus critical that we understand the physico-chemical properties of nanoscale materials in the body, and in particular, the blood. In this proposal, we will investigate the properties of nanomaterials first in simulated blood plasma, followed by human blood products. We will learn about the stability of high surface area nanoparticles of different compositions, shapes, sizes and surface chemistries. The effect of the environment of blood on the different nanoscale materials is unknown, but possible outcomes include nanoparticle dissolution, aggregation, binding to plasma-based proteins, uptake into blood cells, and others; all could have important physiological effects, and thus should be known in advance.