Contributions to Science, 4-2 : Nanoscience and nanotechnology research in Catalonia : Special Issue / N. Ferrer-Anglada, Guest editor

Inorganic nanoparticles and biology

Eudald Casals, Neus Bastus, Socorro Vázquez, Miriam Varon, Joan Comenge, Víctor F. Puntes


Biocompatibility, biodistribution, biodegradation, inflammation
and interference with the normal functioning of cells and tissues
are some of the features that determine the toxicity of engineered
inorganic nanoparticles and carbon nanostructures,
and therefore the potential extent of their use. Recent examples
in the literature show that engineered inorganic nanoparticles
and carbon nanostructures do not normally cause acute
toxic effects. However, their interaction with living organisms
may disrupt normal activity leading to disordersand disease.
Nanoparticle-organism interactions, which can be used to detect
and manipulate biological states and to heal damaged organs
in an environment controlled by specialists, as in clinical
cases, could lead to environmental and human health hazards
if nanoparticles are released prior to adequate risk assessment
and without proper controls. The central question is whether
the unknown risks of engineered nanoparticles, in particular
their impact on health and the environment, outweigh their established
benefits for society. Therefore, to accurately evaluate
the utility of these materials it is necessary to assess their potential

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ISSN: 2013-410X (electronic edition); 1575-6343 (print edition)